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JBroabtoap iHtbiebal Hibrarp 

Edited by 

G. G. Coulton and Eileen Power 


®$e dialogue on jUtracles 


Volume I 



JBroabtoap fflrbiebal library 

Edited by G. G. Coulton and Eileen Power 
r 

The Unconquered Knight 

By Gutierre Diaz de Gamez 

Miracles of the Blessed Virgin Mary 

By Johannes Heroic 

The Dialogue on Miracles 

By Cats arms of Heisterbach 

The Goodman oj Baris 

By A Bourgeois of Palis, <. 1 }9J 

The Autobiography of Ousama 

Anecdotes from English A15. Sermons 

Anecdotes from Thomas of Chantimpre' 


Published by 

HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY 




PLATE 



THE APSE OF HEISTERBACH 


Vol. I) 


[ front 





®fje ©ialogue on Jfttracles 


f)Z 
C 1513 

l Z 7 
v. i 



CAESARIUS OF 
felSTERBACH 
(1220 - 1235 ) 

Vol. I 


Translated by H. VON E. SCOTT and C. C. SWINTON BLAND 
with an Introduction by G. G. COULTON 


Published by 

HARCOURT, BRACE AND COMPANY 
NEW YORK 
1929 




















PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY HEADLEY BROTHERS, 
l8, DEVONSHIRE STREET, E.C.2 ) AND ASHFORD, KENT. 



CONTENTS 


PAGE 


INTRODUCTION BY G. G. COULTON . VH 

PROLOGUE I 

BOOK I : OF CONVERSION 5 

BOOK II : OF CONTRITION 6 1 

BOOK III : OF CONFESSION I23 

BOOK IV : OF TEMPTATION I93 

BOOK V: OF DEMONS 313 

BOOK VI : OF SINGLENESS OF HEART . 39I 

BOOK VII : OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY . 453 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 


PLATE 

I The Apse of Heisterbach. From J. P. Seddon, Rambles 
in the Rhine Provinces , 1868, p. 44 Frontispiece 

II An Early MS. of Caesarius. In the Royal Library at 

Dusseldorf, of the 14th century To face p. 4 

III A Cistercian’s Faith. From a MS. of about 1400 in the 

Royal Library at Dusseldorf. The words are those of 
Dist. Ill, ch. 1 To face p. 122 

IV The Abbey of Maulronn. The most important of these 

buildings date from about Caesarius’s time. The view 
shows two of the fishponds, and numerous dependents’ lodg¬ 
ings side by side with the monastic offices within the 
precincts. By courtesy of the Syndics of the Cambridge 
L T niversity Press To face p. 264 

V The Class-room and the Rod. From Brit. Mus. MS. 
Roy. VI, E.6, fol. 214. By courtesy of the Syndics of 
the Cambridge University Press To face p. 406 

VI Three Medieval Houses in Cologne. From Sulpiz Bois- 
seree, Denkmale d. Bankunst, etc., 1833, plates 34 and 35. 
The right-hand house was pulled down in about 1825 ; 
all three were probably built in the life-time of Caesarius. 
The central house may still be seen in the Rheingasse, 
though whole streets have been swept away round it. It 
has sometimes been attributed to the wealthy family of 
Overstolz ; on the other hand, it is often called “ Temp¬ 
lars’ House ” To face p. 414 



INTRODUCTION 


Picturesque monastic ruins are less frequent in Germany 
than in Great Britain. At the Reformation, princes some¬ 
times did what should have been done with us; they converted 
the dissolved abbeys into schools, colleges or hospitals. Thus 
the CiSfercian monastery of Maulbronn in Wiirtemberg has 
remained in a wonderful State of preservation; it was made, 
like the neighbouring abbey of Blaubeuren, into a ProteSlant 
theological seminary; and thus it presents not a ruin, but 
probably the completeSt specimen of a medieval CiSlercian 
house in Europe. Other dispossessed houses seem to have 
been pulled down more rcmorsely than with us; but almoSt 
as much medieval work has been destroyed, in those districts 
which clung to the Roman obedience, by the monks them¬ 
selves. In Germany as in other countries, they rebuilt when¬ 
ever they could find the money; so that great monasteries 
like Admont in Austria, Dissentis and St. Gall in Switzerland, 
show less medieval masonry than the average English ruin. 

HeiSterbach is here a fortunate exception; its ruined apse, 
beautiful in itself, is set in happy surroundings. Lying amidst 
the moSt picturesque and therefore the moSt familiar of Rhine¬ 
land scenes, it is yet sufficiently secluded to escape the 
commonplace touriSl; and even Germans, unul recently, have 
honoured it with little notice. Yet the associations of this 
abbey, as readers of the present translation may discover, are 
if possible more interesting than the ruin or the valley, and 
may rival even those which cling round “ the caStled crag of 
Drachenfels.” 

The foundation and early years of HeiSterbach Abbey are 
told by Caesarius, but in fragmentary sketches and allusions 

vii 



Introduction 

which may be supplemented here. Like many other Cister¬ 
cian houses, our own Fountains included, it began on a scale 
of asceticism and independence of natural conditions which 
proved too much for human endurance, and was exchanged 
for more reasonable self-denial. 

One of the famous Seven Mountains by Konigswinter on 
the Rhine is now called Stromberg, but was also named 
Petersberg, from a chapel which Stood on its wooded creSt. 
Very likely this was a converted pagan temple, just as Godes- 
berg, to which it looks across the Rhine, was originally 
Wudinsberg,“the Mount of Woden.” All round Stood caStles, 
Still to be seen in their ruins, built by warlike prince-bishops 
of Cologne; Drachenfels, Wolkenburg, Rolandseck, and 
presently, as we shall see, Godesberg. These mountains had 
Still earlier warlike traditions; battles that had been woven into 
the medieval epic of Theodoric the Goth, or “ Dietrich von 
Bern.” The highest of them, the Auelberg, had in earlier 
ages been the tribal folkmoot-place; thus the whole group 
had commanded attention from time immemorial. The 
chapel on Petersberg was occupied in 1134 by a Knight named 
Walter, who “ had escaped, naked, from the shipwreck of 
the world,” and had gathered a small group of like-minded 
penitents, with whom he formed a community which lived 
under the rule attributed to St. AuguStine. Innocent II and 
CeleSline II granted the convent formal letters of protection; 
but the brethren found it a hard Struggle for existence on this 
upland, where the only free soil was what they could clear for 
themselves. At the death of their founder Walter, they 
moved down into the fertile Sulzthal, and formed a new 
convent at Reussrath. 

Archbishop Philip of Cologne (1167-91) found fresh inhabit¬ 
ants for this deserted Petersberg. The CiStercian reform 
was then in full force; hence the Archbishop drew, (in his 
own words) “ water from that Stream wherein it flowed moSt 
pure.” He raised a small band of CiStercians from the 
convent of Himmerode in the Eifel diSlrid, who were willing 

viii 



Introduction 


to fight againft inclement climate, niggardly soil, and the 
devils who were known always to resent monastic enroach- 
ment upon their ancient solitary reign. The new foundation 
had its difficulties, external as well as internal. The Arch¬ 
bishop (writes Csesarius, Book IV, ch. 64) “ was rebuked by 
certain men of the province who feared for their heirs.” In 
his Homilies (Vol. II, p. 15) Csesarius puts it more explicitly 
still; “ such a disturbance was aroused in the province, not 
only by knights and villagers, but even by the Count himself,” 
that the beneficent prelate found himself confronted with 
a Storm. “ But he answered a good word, a holy word, 
saying: ‘ Would that there were in each village of my diocese 
a convent of just folk, who would praise God without ceasing 
and pray both for me and for those who are committed to my 
care! Methinks my Church would then be in a far better 
Slate than now; for they would profit many men and harm 
none. They take not other folk’s goods, but share their own 
with all men.” This claim, at that early Stage of Cistercian 
life, was substantially true, and the opposition was disarmed 
when the Archbishop took legal guarantees from the monks 
against undue enroachments. Twelve monks and an abbot— 
the number which had been traditional all through the 
Benedictine centuries for a complete “ convent ”—set forth 
from Himmerode in April 1x88-9 (Bk. VIII ch. 91). “ As their 
barge was borne down the Rhine, (according to the witness 
of all who Still survive) they saw in the heaven above them 
a circle of light, wherein were seven suns .... by which 
circle I understand the eternity of the Holy Spirit; and, by the 
seven suns, His sevenfold gifts, wherewith the province was to 
be illuminated by the good example of this monastery.” But 
this convent on the Petersberg lasted not even so long as 
under the AuguStians. The CiStercians, in their turn, found 
the climate and soil too unfavourable; moreover, Cistercian 
tradition was always to settle monasteries not in cities or on 
hills, but in wooded valleys, often near the head-waters of 
the Stream. In 1192, therefore, they left for Petersberg and 

ix 



Introduction 

setttled in the dale at its foot, at a spot called HeiSterbach, or 
Beech-beck. Here, in course of time, they verified both the 
Archbishop’s predictions and those of his critics. They 
settled first in mere farm buildings which Philip granted 
them, to which they added a wooden chapel. But they 
rapidly grew in fame of sandtity, and therefore in wealth : 
Caesarius points the moral in a tale beloved of Luther and 
of Browning, Date and Dabitur, (Bk. IV. c.c. 68, 70). On the 
one hand, during the terrible famine of 1197, the abbot 
slaughtered an ox for the poor on every day except faStdays, 
and fifteen hundred are said to have been kept from Starvation 
during the worSt days; on the other, their charity was 
rewarded a hundredfold even in this life, (IV. 65). They were 
soon great landowners not only in their own valley but as 
far off as Bonn, Cologne, Miihlheim and the WeSterwald. 
Cxsarius tell us how the mighty Innocent III himself would 
have taxed these CiStercian possessions, like other Church 
property, for the Crusade of 1204; but the General chapter 
prayed so vehemently to the Virgin Mary, and she sent so 
threatening a message to the Pontiff, that he feared and 
repented, (VII 6; cf. 7.) Before Caesarius was dead, the 
Order which had begun in such poverty and self-denial was 
already earning a reputation for rapacity. But his book, 
like the Exordium Magnum Cifierciense of his contemporary 
Conrad von Eberbach, tells mainly of the palmy days of the 
Order; and for that we are most grateful to him. 

In his lifetime, and mostly under his own eyes, 
the monastery was born and grew up to its full Strength 
if not to its greatest wealth. He saw it Struggle 
through the years of terror when two princes were 
fighting for the Empire, and two churchmen for the 
Archbishopric of Cologne, while both wars surged back¬ 
wards and forwards over the crops and homeSteads of the 
Rhineland peasants. He saw the foundation of the great 
abbey church in 1202, its dedication in 1227, and probably 
some further years of continuous leisurely building, as the 

x 



Introduction 

funds dribbled in, until all was completed to the very western 
portal. The choir was frankly Romanesque in Style; the west 
end, as Boisseree’s drawing shows, had pointed arches in the 
newer Gothic Style. This church was one of a notable group 
in the Rhine district; it may be compared with the roughly 
contemporary buildings of the Apostelkirche at Cologne, St. 
CaStor at Coblenz, Limburg Cathedral, or the churches of 
Sinzig and Andernach. All of these are more or less influ¬ 
enced by the Burgundian Style which reached such simple 
quiet perfection in the beSt CiStercian churches, where that 
puritanism which was one of the fundamental principles of the 
Order imposed severe artistic restraints, yet left plenty of room 
for individual expression. The large marjority of CiStercian 
churches have a plain square east end; but HeiSterbach, like 
Pontigny and a few others, ends in a semi-circle with a cluStcr 
of chapels. There is a very definite reason for the simultaneous 
erection of so many churches in Rhineland; in the civil wars 
of 1198-1208 Coblenz, Andernach, Sinzig, Remagen and Bonn 
were all burned, and the sanctuaries were rebuilt as soon as 
money could be found. In excuse for Ctesarius’s conviction 
that it was impious in Innocent III to dream of taxing HeiSter¬ 
bach for the Crusade of 1204, let us remember that the monks 
were then spending heavily on the choir which, in its ruin, 
is one of the most picturesque in Germany. 

HeiSterbach, in later days, seems to have lapsed into 
the uneventful and undistinguished mediocrity of moSt 
monasteries, even in the CiStercian Order. No such 
distinguished inmates are recorded, whether monks or 
gueSts, as those of whom Caesarius tells us. 1 Scarcely 
a generation after our author’s death, the abbey fell into 
a gulf of debt —debita infinite —and the abbot was de¬ 
posed (1285). The budget was balanced by expedients 
common enough at the time, but dubious in their effeCts— 
a yearly fair, repeated grants of indulgences for pilgrims, 

1 See index under Theodoric of Wied, Ludwig of Are, ChriAian of Bonn, Conrad 
•of Thuringen, Caesarius of Prum, Nicholas the Archpoet. 



Introduction 

and (what had been moft Aridity forbidden in earlier 
Ciftercian days) permission for women to worship in, and 
bring their offerings to the alms-boxes of, the abbey church 
(1309-1317). In the next century came a reforming abbot 
(Christian II. d. 1448), The religious wars brought distress 
again; the abbey was burned in 1588, and plundered in 1688-9 
and 1703. It was dissolved in consequence of the French 
Revolution (1803) and sold in 1810 to be broken up for build¬ 
ing materials; fortunately the enthusiastic antiquary Sulpiz 
Boisseree drew the church while it was only half demolished. 

Of Csesarius himself we know little beyond what he tells 
us casually on his way from one tale to another. He was 
probably born at Cologne; certainly he knew the city well in 
early life. The Rhine in history has been perhaps the greatest 
of all trade routes; and in 1200 it was at its beSt. The sur¬ 
viving gates and fragments of town wall at Cologne seem 
gigantic when compared with even York or Chester in 
England; moreover, here and there, even villages were better 
fortified than our English towns; for the feudal lords were as 
ubiquitous and predatory as the workers were busy and rich. 
The great Stone house which Story connedts with the name of 
OverStolz, in the Rheingasse at Cologne, but which perhaps 
belonged to the Templars, Still survives amid many clearances 
and changes around, and is as sound and habitable now as it 
was seven centuries ago. Cologne painters are praised in con¬ 
temporary poetry, and the goldsmiths were unsurpassed. “The 
pidture drawn by Rudolf von Ems in his well-known poem 
Der Gute Gerhard shows, even at that date, a refined man of 
the world, with courtly culture, who can move as freely among 
bishops and princes as among his own fellows, the burghers 
and merchants. With all his modesty he yet speaks of ‘the dig¬ 
nity that all men should have who busy themselves with com¬ 
merce,’ and thinks that even a princess may fare worse than 
to find herself ein reiches Kaufweib by marriage with a 
merchant’s son.” 1 In other epics, by poets who knew Cologne 

1 Kaufmann, pp. 18, 19. 

xii 



Introduction 

only from world-report, the city is represented as an abode of 
counts and princesses, and a scene of constant chivalric 
exploits. Knights of Cologne distinguished themselves in 
sober history, as crusaders and as combatants in the wars 
between Pope and Emperor. Never was all this truer than 
in Cat sari ns’s own day. He lived to see, or hear of as local 
news, King John of Jerusalem coming to visit archbishop 
Engelbert and humbled like the Queen of Sheba by what he 
saw; Still more magnificent was the visit of the Emperor 
Frederick II with his new English bride in 1235. Cacsarius 
may juSt have lived to see the firSt Stone laid, in 1248, of the 
present Cathedral choir. He was at HeiSterbach when the 
Emperor Otto sought refuge in Cologne after his defeat at 
Bouvines, and finally slunk out almost as his rival Frederick 
marched in by the opposite gate, and presently guttered out in 
obscurity like a spent candle. 

The rapid increase of wealth quickened every form of 
city life; here, as in the great cities of Italy, trade and war, 
culture and riot went hand in hand. Catsarius, who must 
have been born in about 1180, which would make him an 
almoSI exadt contemporary of St. Francis, would see much 
the same contrasts of luxury and poverty which the Saint cf 
Assisi saw, on an exaggerated scale. He tells us incidentally 
of minStrelsy and wine (VI. 7); from other sources we hear of 
the great Whitsuntide dances at Cologne. Caesarius, in his 
boyhood, had “ often ” seen a drunken youth running naked 
through the Streets (IV. 6); gamblers, again, would play away 
their laSt shreds of clothing, and hang themselves in despair 
(IV. 44); even at a solemn funeral service, some of the scholars 
would be dicing or pulling each other’s hair while the reSt 
chanted the requiem (I. 32). The clergy, though comparing 
favourably with neighbouring Bonn, and displaying more 
than one Parson Adams, contained a disconcerting variety of 
Trullibers, of whom the most picturesque, perhaps was 
Bertolph surnamed “ Guzzle-bacon ” (Vorator Lardi, IX, 
59), or perhaps the Abbess of the Eleven Thousand Virgins, 

xiii 



Introduction 

revelling down the ftreet with her attendants and preceded 
by clerics wrapped in nun’s mantles (VI. 5). Cassarius, 
fortunately for himself and for us, was not dependent as a boy 
upon clerics of this latter kind. His makers were two of 
the beft men whom he describes in his whole book, Rudolf 
and Ensfrid. 1 The former was “ Scholafticus,” or Mafter 
of the Cathedral School; he had been a lefturer at Paris and 
was a man of real learning and upright life. Ensfrid had 
begun as Rector of Siegburg and ended as Dean of the 
collegiate church of St. Andreas, which ftands near the weft 
end of the Cathedral, and forms a moft pifturesque boundary 
to the garden of the present “ Ewige Lampe ” hotel. That 
side is of later Gothic work; but a great part of the church is 
Still as Caesarius saw it; where he sat as a schoolboy, children 
Still sit for their catechism. Ensfrid had many virtues, and 
it was not the leaSt of them that he differed from moSt medie¬ 
val pedagogues as to the value of severe corporal punishment. 
Our hero was Still in his schooldays when he caught a fever 
and came near to death. The cure prescribed, on religious 
grounds, fortunately coincided with what a modern hydro- 
therapiSt would choose for medical reasons; and he was 
miraculously healed (X 44). Miracles and visions were of 
common occurrence in the city; here was “ das grosse, heilige 
Koln,” which was said to count as many churches and chapels 
as there are days in the year; and Czesarius, while his intellect 
expanded under Rudolf, was in sympathy with the mysticism 
of Ensfrid. Moreover, this was evidently a brittle world. He 
heard Henry, Cardinal Bishop of Albano, preach in Cologne 
a crusade againft Saladin, who had juft taken Jerusalem; 
then, in 1188, came this third crusade, with its miserable fail¬ 
ure and the ftartling death of the great Emperor Frederick 1; 
then came the disaftrous civil wars; all these things, with other 
sufferings that came more nearly home to the common people, 
sank into our author’s soul. He writes: “ In our days there 
would seem to be a fulfilment of what the Lord saith in the 
1 The relevant passages may be found ini. 32,; IV. 26; I. 38 ; IX. 22 ; VI. 5. 



Introduction 

gospel: ‘ nation shall rise againft nation, and kingdom 
againSt kingdom, and great earthquakes shall be in divers 
places, and famines and pestilences; and fearful sights and 
great signs shall there be from heaven ’ ” (X 47). It was 
not a comfortable world, even in “ the great and holy 
Cologne ” ; and at laSt he resolved to give it the go-by. “ In 
the days when King Philip made his first campaign of ravage 
in the diocese of Cologne, it chanced that I journeyed from 
Walberberg to Cologne with abbot Gevard ” of HeiSterbach, 
the man who, only a year before, had dealt so mercifully with 
the Starving poor. “ On that journey he exhorted me moSt 
earnestly to conversion, 1 yet with no efifedt, until he told me 
that Story of the angel-reapers at Clairvaux,” which will be 
found in its due place (I 17). Caesarius delayed only three 
months, to perform a pilgrimage he had vowed to Rocama- 
dour; and then, without the knowledge of his friends, he 
slipped off and entered as a novice at HeiSterbach, in the laSt 
weeks of 1198 or the first of 1199. As fellow-novice he had a 
far more aged friend, Gottfried the “ scholaSticus ” of St. 
Andreas, who had been tutor to Archbishop Philip of 
Cologne. The old man found CiStercian life very hard, and 
almoSt gave in; Caesarius comforted him, encouraged him to 
open the Bible and pitch upon a verse for his guidance; and 
this brought him safely through (IV 49, 94). There and else¬ 
where he shows very clearly how much courage and persever¬ 
ance went to the making of a true CiStercian in those early 
days. 

Caesarius became in due course MaSter of the Novices and 
Prior of HeiSterbach, apparently reaching the latter dignity 
in 1220. As Prior, he was constantly the Abbot’s companion 
on rounds of visitation; we find him near Aachen, at Burt- 
scheid, at Stuben on the Moselle, at Hadamar and finally at 
Eberbach, where Conrad was finishing, or had recently 

1 Conversio, in medieval Latin, almoft always means the adoption of monaftic 
vows. This conversion of Csesarius may be compared with that of his younger 
contemporary, the Franciscan Salimbene of Parma, which I have translated in 
Chapter IV of From St. Francis to Dante. 


XV 



Introduction 


completed, his Exordium Magnum Ciflerciensc, a book almost 
as precious for its scenes of monastic life as that of Caesarius. 
He was also at Groningen, and in 1233 at Marburg, swarming 
with pilgrims for the recent canonization of St. Elizabeth of 
Hungary. By this time his literary reputation was assured. 
His own Abbot, the Abbot of Himmerode, and the Arch¬ 
bishop of Cologne all pressed him to finish this present Dia¬ 
logue and his closely-related book of Homilies, with the Lives 
of the martyred Archbishop Engelbert of Cologne and of St. 
Elizabeth. He was recognized on all sides as one of the 
profoundeSt theologians and casuiSts of the Rhineland, and 
consulted accordingly. Men got hold of his unfinished 
manuscripts and copied them without his leave. He must 
have died somewhere between 1240 and 1250, or perhaps a 
little later. Nearly a hundred manuscripts of his different 
works have survived even to the present day; and one of the 
Dialogue, dating almoSt from his lifetime, was probably 
written in the very Abbey of HeiSterbach. This Dialogue, 
so exa< 5 tly suited for the inStruftion of early 13th century 
novices, kept its popularity in the cloiSter for a very long time. 
It was Still read publicly in CiStercian houses on the verge of 
the Reformation; and it was quoted by the biographer of 
Johann Wessel, as an instance of his hero’s independence of 
judgment, that he found it too legendary for true edification : 
“ It would be better to have theology and the devotions of 
Bernard presented before the Brethren; for this contains not 
only absurdity, but much that is dangerous.” 1 

In Wessel’s age, with its intellectual and spiritual awaken¬ 
ing, this criticism was already justified; and, from the Stridtly 
modern points of view, it might be put even more Strongly. 
European society was not ripe for the Reformation in 1230 as 
it was in 1480; and many of the things which displeased an 
advanced thinker like Wessel had, in earlier days, been 
commonplaces not only of ordinary, but also of what passed 

1 E. W. Miller and J. W. Scudder, Wessel Gansfort (Putnams, N.Y., 1917), vol. II., 
p. 342. from A. Hardcnberg’salmoft contemporary life of Wessel, who died in 1489. 

xvi 



Introduction 


for higher theology. Caesarius’s eschatology, for instance, is to 
us extraordinarily crude. Yet, in his day, there was probably 
no single exception among orthodox writers to the creed 
expounded by so balanced a philosopher and theologian as 
St. Thomas Aquinas—that the large majority of mankind 
will find their way to inconceivable torture in hell, and that 
the small minority of saved, looking down from heaven upon 
these torments, will rejoice in God’s justice as manifested 
therein. Bearing this in mind, we shall see how truly 
Cxsarius mirrors his own times. 

For his whole book is essentially truthful, even where we 
condemn its faSts as untrue; the things may not always be 
vera in detail, but the author is uniformly verax. Where he 
knows a Story only by hearsay, he tells us so, as in the famous 
reply attributed to the Legate at Beziers: “ Kill, Kill! God 
will know his own! ” His anecdotes are mainly local, drawn 
from his own experience or those of his immediate friends; 
but a good many are of far wider historical significance; his 
interest for us springs from his own lively interest in so many 
different things; to him we may truly apply what Dryden 
said of Chaucer: “Here is God’s plenty.” Moreover, 
wherever he can be checked by contemporary documents, he 
has never, I believe, been convicted of more than the ordinary 
small lapses of memory into which we fall in recalling distant 
years. 

In 1851, J. Strange published an excellent edition of the 
Dialogue in two volumes; for the Homilies we must still go 
to the unprocurable edition of CoppenStein (1615). There 
is an excellent brief Study of Csesarius and his writings by A. 
Kaufmann (Cologne 1850) to which I am much indebted: it 
is now out of print. A well-illuStrated monograph on the 
abbey buildings has recently been published by E. Beitz 
(Augsburg, Benno Filsen, 2 Mk.) With regard to transla¬ 
tion, I believe that the present version here published is the 
firSt to appear in any language, often as the public desire for 
some such vulgarization has been expressed. 

xvii 



Introduction 


A word muSt be added concerning the translators, both 
of whom I am happy to count among my fellow-collegians 
and friends. The Reverend H. v. E. Scott, though mainly 
a mathematician, had always a natural and very real love for 
the classics, which grew rather than withered under the daily 
drudgery of reading them with pupils not always very 
advanced or interested. Among those pupils was Laurence 
Oates, the “ gallant English gentleman ” of the South Pole 
Expedition, whose character, like that of many others, owed 
very much to a tutor distinguished in nearly all branches of 
athletics, intensely sociable and generous by nature, trans¬ 
parently honeSt, and Straightforward even to bluntness. After 
nearly thirty years of Strenuous tutorial work, Scott undertook 
the largeSt, and far from beSt-paid, of all the parishes in 
ChichcSter diocese. His parishioners soon found out that he 
denied nobody, even at the times that he moSt needed reSt; 
and I seldom saw him eat an entirely uninterrupted meal in 
those days. During the War, when his brother sent him food 
from Canada, he shared it with his people. The work broke 
him down in 1921; after many warnings from his own doeftor, 
he consulted a London specialist, who found serious heart- 
trouble, and told him plainly that he muSt resign his living or 
die within a few weeks. When once he had settled down 
into enforced retirement, he began upon the translation of 
Czesarius, which had long been planned. Scarcely a day 
passed without two or three fresh pages, until a sudden 
paralytic Stroke in December, 1922. Even then he pressed on 
firit with his own hand, and then, after a second Stroke, by 
the devotion of his wife, to whom he di< 5 tated until the days 
came when his words became no longer intelligible; and thus 
this laSt labour of an exceptionally laborious life was perforce 
broken off. 

After his death, I was fortunate enough to enliSt Mr. C. C. 
Swinton Bland, late HeadmaSter of Ripon School, whose 
familiarity with classical Latin has now emboldened him to 
make more than one venture into the Middle Ages. 

xviii 



Introduction 


Mr. Bland is responsible for about one-third of the translation, 
the index, and a great deal of hard work in proof-reading and 
general revision. I cannot answer in detail for two volumes 
which time will not permit me to revise; but of one thing I 
am sure, that the reader will here find, on the whole, from the 
two translators, as true a picture of Catsarius as Ctesarius 
has given us of his own times. Classical scholars, face to face 
with medieval Latin, may easily trip here and there over a 
technical phrase; indeed, many slips of that kind may be 
found even in works written by professed medievalists, and 
published under the segis of learned societies. But to this 
present translation, as to the original book, we may confidently 
apply Montaigne’s words: “C’cft icy un livre de bonne foy, 
lefteur.” 

G. G. CoULTON. 


XIX 




PROLOGUE. 


“ Gather up the fragments that remain that nothing 
be loii.” 

It has been my duty, in my responsible post, 1 to rehearse to 
the novices some of those miracles that have been wrought 
within our Order in our own times, and are Still of daily 
occurrence; and I have been asked with much insistence by 
many to perpetuate them in writing. For they said that it 
would be an irrevocable loss if those accounts should fall into 
oblivion, which might serve for the edification of posterity. 
Although I felt myself unfitted to do this, both because of my 
scanty knowledge of the Latin tongue and my fear of the 
detractions of the envious, yet the commands of my abbot 
were laid upon me, together with the advice of the abbot of 
MarienStatt, and these it was impossible to gainsay. Mindful 
also of the saying of the Saviour, which I have quoted, while 
others are breaking whole loaves to the people, that is, are 
expounding hard problems of Scripture, or writing down the 
more important occurrences of modern days, I have collected 
the crumbs that fell and have filled twelve baskets with them 
for those who are poor, not in grace, but in learning. For 
under that number of heads I have divided the whole work. 
The firSt book treats of conversion, the second of contrition, 
the third of confession, the fourth of temptation, the fifth of 
demons, the sixth of the virtue of simplicity, the seventh of the 
Blessed Virgin Mary, the eighth of various visions, the ninth 
of the sacrament of the body and blood of Christ, the tenth 
of miracles, the eleventh of the dying, and the twelfth of the 
pains and glories of the dead. 

Now that I might arrange my examples the more effec¬ 
tively, I have introduced, in the manner of a dialogue, two 
persons, to wit, a novice who asks questions, and a monk who 

1 As mafter of the novices. 


I 



Prologue 


gives the answers; because, when the name of the author is 
withheld, the tongue of the detractor finds nothing to feed 
upon; nevertheless, if any desire to know his name let him 
put together the initial letters of the twelve books. 1 

I have also inserted accounts of a great number of events 
that took place outside the Order, because they were edifying, 
and were, like all the red related to me by religious men. 
God is my witness that I have not fashioned from imagination 
one single chapter in this dialogue; moreover, if any of the 
details happened otherwise than I have set them down, the 
responsibility mud lie on those who narrated them to me. 
And because this dialogue contains so many miracles, I have 
called it the Dialogue of Miracles. 

My reasons for so arranging the books are these : Because a 
man can be converted on the outside, without contrition, the 
fird book discusses conversion. Because conversion is useless 
without contrition in the sinner, contrition holds the second 
place. Also because contrition of itself is barren, unless it be 
followed by oral confession, the discussion of confession follows 
next. Further, since confession is rarely enough to wipe out 
the penalty due to sin, the quedion of satisfaction will fitly 
succeed, and I have shown this to be temptation (iv. i). 
Again, because demons are the authors or indigators of temp¬ 
tation, there follows the book that treats of them. Also, 
because simplicity of heart is the bed antidote to temptation, 
the treatment of simplicity succeeds that of the demons. 
These six parts refer to merits, the remaining six to rewards. 
Moreover, the science of numbers requires that they should 
be so arranged. For as unity is the base of all numbers, so is 
conversion the darting point of all righteousness. The second 
place is befitting to contrition, which is twofold, expressing 
itself in grief of mind and pain of body. The third place 
for confesson, for it is threefold (cf. iii. i), the confession of 
praise, of faith, and of guilt. Temptation holds the fourth 
place, because there are four who tempt us : God, the devil, 
the world and the flesh. The fifth place is suitable for the 
devil, because five is the apodate number. The sixth for 
simplicity, for six is the number of perfection, and simplicity 

1 They formed the words: cesarii mvnvs. 


2 



Prologue 


is that which makes “ the whole body full of light ” (Matt, 
vi. 22). But the reasons for such positions, both of these firSt 
six and of the others following, are more fully shown at the 
beginning of each book. And because by the blessing of 
ChriSl, the collected fragments are so multiplied that they may 
be compared with whole loaves in quantity, I have divided 
them into two volumes, as the twelve loaves of the shewbread 
were set in two rows (Lev. xxiv. 6), six books being placed in 
one and six in the other. 




PLATE i! 


)ncipir DtftuWbo*113- fct omftflloiie 

catutuhtm t)nimun« x ■'& 

T--t-- ts*- r _ 4. 

mebefiomo co 


ft (Boms qumiu 
fruchtofa eft om 
ms contrmo" 


uiMfcfcebemtts 

___ qui^ fit cottftC 

So .* quaa* cc bebeai-'que (it dm 

UltTU£> «* quid ftutW ,Tk»nvmi>* 



AN EARLY MS. OF C/ESARIUS (Di.t. III. c. I 


Vol. I) 


[face p. 4 




THE DIALOGUE ON MIRACLES 


BOOK I 

OF CONVERSION 

CHAPTER I. 

Of the infiitution of the CiMercian Order. 

I desire to speak of conversion 1 , and therefore I invoke the 
aid of Him, who speaketh peace to His people and to His 
saints (Ps. lxxxv, 8), and to those who are converted at the 
heart. He it is who inspireth what should be written, who 
guideth the pen, who beStoweth the rewards of toil. From 
Him cometh the conversion to salvation, because His mercy 
turneth away His wrath from those His power hath converted. 

Novice. —Before beginning your discourse upon conversion, 
will you please tell me where, and by whom, and under 
what pressure our Order was founded, so that having thus 
laid the foundation you may build the spiritual walls upon 
it with those living, polished and precious Slones that have 
been vouchsafed to the earth ? 

Mon\. —In the diocese of Langres 2 there is a monastery 
called Molesme, well known to fame, conspicuous in religion, 
ennobled by illustrious sons, of ample possessions and no less 
rich in virtue. And because there can be no laSting 
companionship for wealth and virtue, some of its members, 
truly wise and lovers of virtue, with a clear perception of 
higher things considered that though they were living honour¬ 
ably enough in this monastery, yet the rule was far less Slri<ft 
than that to which they had vowed themselves. They there¬ 
fore, a little band of twenty-one monks, with the abbot Robert, 

1 Conversion does indeed signify complete change of heart, and is used with 
that meaning by Cesarius, but his general use of the word, as in the case of ail later 
medieval writers, is in the sense of profession or taking the monadic vows. 

2 According to another MS., Lyons. 


5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


consulted together, and with one consent set out for a wafte 
and solitary wilderness called Citeaux, determined there to 
support themselves by the work of their own hands, as 
enjoined by the rule. 

And so, in the year of Our Lord’s Incarnation, 1098, upheld 
by the advice and support of the venerable Hugo, Bishop 
of Lyons, and at that time legate of the papal see, 
and of the pious Walter, Bishop of Chalons, and also of the 
illuftrious Prince Odo, Duke of Burgundy, they began to build 
an abbey in this place. And because the monastery from 
which they had gone out had been built in honour of Mary, 
the Blessed Mother of God, both they and their successors who 
came forth from this monastery determined that all their 
churches should be dedicated to the honour of the same 
glorious Virgin. Not long afterwards, by the command of 
Urban II and with the consent of Walter of Chalons, because 
the monks of Molesme called urgently for the return of their 
abbot, Robert went back to them and Alberic, a pious and 
holy man, was chosen to fill his place; and by his diligence, 
the grace of God working with him, that Valley grew no little 
in repute, and all things needful were added to them. 

On the death of Alberic, Stephen, a man of equal sancflity 
and an Englishman, succeeded. Hitherto they had been but 
few in number, because layfolk shrank from their auSlerity, 
though reverencing them for their holiness of life : but now 
in their fifteenth year, they were joined by S. Bernard with 
about thirty companions who came thither to bow their necks 
beneath the gentle yoke of ChriSt. From this time forward 
that vine of the Lord of Sabaoth began to grow and expand 
and to extend its branches from sea to sea till the earth was 
filled with the fullness of it. La Ferte, Pontigny, Clairvaux, 
Morimond were its firSt offshoots, whose abbots became of so 
great importance that together they make a visitation to their 
father the abbot of Citeaux, and are in turn visited by him one 
by one. 

Novice .—What is a visitation? 

Mon \.—A visitation is a means of preserving discipline. 
The early fathers instituted two methods for the corre< 5 tion of 
faults and the promotion of charity, to wit, the General 

6 



Of Conversion 


Chapter and the early visitation of the monasteries. Then in 
the year of our Lord 1115 was founded the house of Clairvaux, 
whose firSt abbot was Bernard, and in the year 1134, that of 
Hemmenrode; then in 1188, on the 17th of March, our 
convent, with its abbot Herman, went forth from Hemmen¬ 
rode and on the 22nd of the same month came to the mountain 
of Stromberg. Four years afterwards it went down into the 
valley of PeterSthal. 1 

Novice .—From what I have heard, the Order of the Black 
monks, Benedictines and Cluniacs have the same Rule as ours; 
can you tell me why there is so great a difference in the dis¬ 
cipline? 

Monf (.—Know that the Cluniac monks and the CiSter- 
cians have the same Rule, but different ways of observance. 
They say that the rigour of the Rule was modified by certain 
holy fathers, in order that a greater number of souls might 
find salvation in the Order. With regard to the habit, in 
which the greatest diversity may be seen, this is what is laid 
down in the Rule of S. Benedict, c. 55. “ Monks are not to 

dispute about the colour or quality of their dress, but muft be 
satisfied with such kinds as are to be found in the province in 
which they live, or such as may be mo£t cheaply obtained.” 
But enough of these things. Keep this fixed firmly in your 
mind: that the author of our Order is the Holy GhoSt, S. 
Benedict its founder, and its reformer the venerable abbot 
Robert. 


CHAPTER II. 

What conversion is, why it is so called and what 
are its various hinds. 

Novice .—I have been thinking of the order of your pro¬ 
posed instruction as shown in your preliminary discourse, and 

1 This valley is commonly called Heifterbach. 


7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


I am puzzled to understand why you have placed the grace 
of conversion before contrition, because it seems to me an utter 
absurdity that anyone should be converted until he has firSt 
repented of his sins. 

Mon\. —Repentance sometimes goes before conversion and 
sometimes follows it. 

Novice. —I should like you to show me this by examples; 
but firSt will you tell me what conversion is, why it is so called, 
what are the various kinds of it, and under what circumstances 
it takes place? 

Monl\. —Conversion is a turning of the heart, either from 
bad to good, or from good to better, or from better to beSt. 

The firSt turning is at the heart and that is contrition, the 
second in the heart, which is devotion, and the third from the 
heart, which is contemplation. Conversion at the heart is the 
return from wilfulness to grace, from sin to uprightness, from 
vice to virtue. Conversion in the heart is advancing in charity, 
and going from Slrength to flrength (Ps. viii. 7) until the 
God of gods appears in Sion, that is, in contemplation. 
Conversion from the heart is the soaring of the spirit in 
contemplation. Contemplation has its plane above the 
heart, wherefore it is called in the Scripture ascensiones 
in corde (Ezek. i. 14). Further the word is conversion 
because it is a total and complete turning; as it is said, 
“ He who forsakes one vice but Slill clings to another, does 
indeed turn, but he is not converted. ” There is another kind 
of conversion, when a man changes his monastery and his 
habit, through zeal for some particular form of Religion, and 
such a conversion may often take place without contrition. 
Nor is it of any value in the sight of God that a sinner should 
leave his abode and not his sin, should change his garment and 
not his heart. It is an unnatural thing to carry the heart of a 
wolf beneath the clothing of a sheep. 

Novice .—Does this often happen ? 

Mon\. —Yes, I will give you an example. 



Of Conversion 


chapter III. 

Of the Prior of Clairvaux who was converted' for 
the sa\e of theft, but was marvellously changed. 

Brother Godfrey 1 of our monastery, who was formerly a 
■canon of S. Andrew in Cologne, told me, when we were 
novices together, a Story worth remembering. He said he 
had been told by a well known monk of Clairvaux that a 
certain clerk, a regular vagabond, like those who spend their 
youth wandering through different provinces, came to Clair¬ 
vaux, not indeed in any zeal for the Order, but that he might 
Real something from the monaRery under the cloak of 
Religion. And so he became a novice, and during the whole 
year of his probation was continually plotting to get the 
treasury of the church, but was unable to satisfy his evil desires 
because it was too well guarded. So he thought within him¬ 
self, When I am actually a monk, and have the right to serve at 
mass, I can easily and secretly take those chalices and get clear 
away. And it was with this intention that he made his pro¬ 
fession, promised obedience and assumed the habit. But the 
merciful Lord, who willeth not the death of a sinner, but 
rather that he should be converted and live (Ezek. xviii. 23, 
32), changed his wicked will in marvellous fashion and of his 
great mercy converted the poison into the antidote. For no 
sooner had he put on his monk’s dress, than he became con¬ 
trite and truly converted, and made so great progress in holy 
religion, that no long time afterwards his sandtity of life 
brought him to the high office of prior at Clairvaux. And, as 
I have already said, his sin became a medicine for others, for 
thereafter he would often tell his Rory to the novices, who 
found in it great edification. 

Novice. —-I should much like to know how so great and 
wonderful a change was wrought in him. 

Mon\. —I think that as the firR and chief cause was the 
mercy of God, so the secondary cause was the virtue and 

1 In the technical sense of taking the vows. 

2 This Godfrey is called Scholafticusin II. 16 and IV. 49. He is not the Godfrey 
•of VI. 5 and XI. 43, 44. 


9 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


blessing that abides in the sacred robes themselves; as one of 
the ancient fathers says: The habit of a monk hath a bap¬ 
tismal virtue. 1 Many know Henry, the lay-brother of 
Hemmenrode, who was mailer in the grange called Hart, who 
bore witness that the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove hovered 
over the head of a certain novice when he was being blessed 
by the abbot upon taking the vow. 

Novice. —It is a great encouragement to me to hear this, 
but there comes to my memory a thought of much terror ; 1 
have heard that some have entered the Order full of good 
intentions, youths of exemplary innocence, who yet in process 
of time have looked back and perished. 

Mon —Often too have I heard of such cases. John, the 
lord archbishop of Treves, a wise man, who knew all the 
secrets of our Order, used to say that it was rare for those who 
came to the Order in early youth or manhood to be truly 
fervent in spirit unless their consciences were burdened with 
a deep sense of sin. Indeed, and it is a pitiable thing to have 
to say, they either live lukewarm and unsatisfaftory lives in 
the Order, or else they leave it altogether; and the reason is 
that they do not know the wholesome terrors of an accusing 
conscience; they presume upon their innocence, and so when 
temptations assail them, they are less able to resift. You 
know about our brother, who within this laft month was 
deceived by a woman and deserted from a neighbouring 
grange? 

Novice. —Yes, I know the sad ftory well. 

Monk —About him I have good reason to know that he 
was a youth of virgin purity and of such rigorous self-discipline 
that there was no other in all our community of whom I 
thought more highly. 

Novice. —Truly the Lord, as says the prophet is wonderful 
in His doings toward the children of men (Ps. lxvi. 4). 

Mon{. —I will tell you also another thing, that happened in 
our mother Hemmenrode in the days of our elders, who- 
related it to me. 


1 Jerome : Ep. 25 De obitu Blesillae. 


10 



Of Conversion 


chapter IV. 

Of the novice in Hemmenrode. 

There came here one day a certain youth who very earnestly 
and humbly sought admission; he was taken in and lived 
among us without giving any cause o£ complaint. He was 
especially beloved by a venerable prieSt named David, of 
whose saintliness wonderful things are told ; and this good 
old man would often urge him on to religious exercises with 
his persuasive words. Often would he and the youth recite 
alternately all the sequences 1 and all the sweet canticles about 
our Lady, by which pradice the old man drove to Stimulate 
the devotion of the younger. In the same year, when that 
north wind (Jer. i. 14, 15) was blowing, the wind that 
engenders every kind of ill, the novice began to waver and 
told the holy man of his danger. But though the other 
comforted him with many wise discourses, all was in vain, 
the temptation only grew Stronger, and at laSl despairing of 
his own constancy he said ; “I am going now, at once, for 
I cannot endure it any longer.” “ Will you wait for me,” 
said the saint, “ while I go to the church to pray?” “ Yes, ” 
he promised. But while the man of God was hastening to the 
place of prayer, the youth, afraid of being hindered by his 
holy intercessions, hurried away with all speed and returned 
to the world. When the venerable prieSt came back from his 
prayer and found the young man had gone, he groaned and 
said: “ It is not given to all to hold faft to the Order.” 

Novice .—These are Stupendous things you tell me. The 
Prior of Clairvaux, whose Story you related before, was con¬ 
verted in and through his own perversity; this youth was 
perverted in the very process of his conversion. Teach me, 
I pray you, your thoughts on these matters. 

Mon \.—I say with the saint, it is not given to all. In the 
firSt let us magnify the manifest mercy of God, in the other 
let us tremble before His hidden judgment (Rom. ix. 15). 

Novice .—Will you go on to explain under what impulse, 
and on what occasions worldly men are attracted to the Order ? 

1 Liturgical canticles which are sung before the Gospel at Mass or at Vespers. . 


II 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter v. 

On what occasions men are converted. 

Mon\. —The occasions of conversion are many. Some 
seem to be converted by the diredt call and inspiration of God, 
others on the contrary by nothing else than an instigation from 
the spirit of evil, some by a certain levity of mind; but the 
greatest number are converted by the ministry of others, as 
by the word of exhortation, or the power of prayer, or the 
example of a Religious life. Then again a vaSt number are 
drawn to the Order by different necessities, such as sickness 
or poverty or captivity or shame for some fault, or some danger 
to life, or by the terror and foretaSte of the pains of hell, or by 
a longing for the heavenly country. All these are illustrations 
of those words of the gospel: Compel them to come in 
(Luke xiv. 23). 

Novice. —Though all these causes seem likely enough, yet 
I shall be much better satisfied if you will give me examples 
of each. 

Mon \.—I will begin then with an example from which 
you may understand how men are converted by the dire# 
call of God. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Of a canon of Liege, who was converted by the 
preaching of S. Bernard. 

When S. Bernard was preaching the crusade in Liege in 
the time of Conrad, king of the Romans, a certain canon of 
the Cathedral, lying proStrate in prayer before one of the altars, 
heard a voice from heaven saying to him : “ Go out and 

listen, for the gospel hath come to life again.” And he rising 
from his devotions went out and found the saint preaching 
the crusade againSt the Saracens; he was giving the cross to 


12 



Of Conversion 


some, and others he was receiving into his Order. He, 
pricked to the heart, and led by the inward un&ion of the Holy 
Spirit, took up the cross, not indeed of that overseas expedition, 
but of the Order, judging it better for his soul’s health to 
imprint the enduring cross for ever upon his heart than to sew 
the short lived sign upon his garment for a season. He had 
read the words of the Saviour, Whoso taheth not up the cross 
daily and followeth me is not worthy of me (Luke ix. 23). 
He said not for one year or two, but daily. Many after pil¬ 
grimage become worse than before and are more deeply 
entangled in their old sins; these are like dogs that return to 
their vomit like sows that have been washed to their wallow¬ 
ing in the mire (2 Pet. ii. 22), while the life of the monks who 
live ftriftly in one continual cross, because obedience crucifieth 
them limb by limb (cf. viii. 19). 

Novice. —You think then that the Order is a higher vocation 
than a pilgrimage? 

Mon\ •—ft ls judged higher, not by my authority, but by 
that of the Church; the Ciftercian Order holds an indulgence 
from the Apostolic See that whoso hath taken the cross or 
bound himself by a vow to any pilgrimage, if he desire instead 
thereof to enter the Order, he shall be held guiltless in the 
sight of God and the Church. Moreover if these two vows, 
to wit, of the Order and of pilgrimage, were held to be equally 
efficacious to the soul’s salvation, then change would be made 
from one to the other indifferently—whereas if a monk desert 
his Order to take the cross, or, what is less heinous, undertake 
a pilgrimage without the express permission and command of 
his Order, he is adjudged not a pilgrim of Chrift, but an 
apoftate. Well does the successor of Peter, to whom especially 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven have been given, know 
that it is far better inwardly to Strive without ceasing againSt 
the temptations of sin than outwardly to confront for a time 
the swords of the Saracens. Nevertheless there were some, as 
I shall presently show, whom S. Bernard would not allow to 
come to conversion though they themselves desired it, but 
ordered them to be marked with the cross. 

Novice. —I am glad that I asked you this question, since 
it has brought me so illuminating an answer. 


*3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon \.—The said clerk together with his friend Walter 
followed S. Bernard to Clairvaux and there both became 
monks. It happened at this time that a band was to be sent 
out to Aulne, a monastery of regulars, because the monks of 
this place had consented to submit themselves to the Order, 
and this Liegeois had a great desire to go with the other 
brethren; but he was afraid to tell his desire to the abbot, left 
perchance it should seem to spring from no better motive than 
a desire for change; and so he turned to the Lord, and prayed 
that He would show him what He would have him to do. 
And a voice came to him : “ Ask what thou wilt, and it 

shall be done unto thee.” Straightway he went to his abbot, 
and spoke out boldly : “ Father, if it be your will, gladly 

would I go with these brothers.” And the answer came at 
once, “ Go with them in the name of the Lord.” So both 
he and Walter went with the new convent to Aulne, and not 
long after he was made prior there. On a day when he was 
chanting the sext of our Lady, one of his monks made the 
sign to him that he wished to make his confession, and because 
he was thus engaged, he signed to him to wait a little. And 
soon that sext was over, and both of them passed into the 
choir. While the prior was ftanding in his ftall an angel of 
the Lord, as was afterwards evident, in the likeness and 
dress of this same monk, proftrated himself at the feet of 
the prior as if about to make his confession : and when he 
sought to raise him up, he vanished. And the prior be¬ 
thought himself, and he realised that this had been the 
guardian angel of the monk who desired to confess, and that 
it was a sign of rebuke to him for his repulse. 

Novice .—I marvel greatly that the holy angel of the Lord 
should deign to proftrate himself so humbly at the feet of a 
man. 

Monl {.—When our superiors refuse us that which they are 
bound to use for our soul’s health, and especially that which is 
suggefted to us by our guardian angel for our help, it is as if 
the refusal were made to the angels themselves. The angel 
indeed proftrated himself before a man, heaven before earth, 
gold before dross, that by such an aft he might reprove him 
for his negligence, and by the shock of fear might make him 



Of Conversion 


more careful thenceforth. When the office was over, the prior 
called the monk to him and said “Now make your confession” 
and he replied “ Indeed, Sir, I can well wait till to-morrow.” 
But he cried out vehemently: “ I will not taSte of food this 
day until I have heard your confession.” It was then the 
dinner hour : but the monk yielded and made his confession : 
and the prior vowed to God that from that time forth no kind 
of circumstance or occupation, no beginning of an office, no 
service to the Mother of God should ever prevent him from 
hearing a confession when once he had seen the accuStomed 
signal of desire. When age increased upon him, and he 
could no longer perform the duties of his priorate through 
weakness of body, he exchanged the toil of Martha for the 
quiet of Mary : for he made vows to God that he would recite 
the psalter from beginning to end every day; and so, filled with 
virtues, he departed to be with the Lord and was joined to the 
company of the holy angels. Walter his countryman, who 
told this Story to Dom Henry our abbot, from whom I heard 
it, related how he longed to depart and be with Chriil 
(Phil. i. 23), and would cry daily, " When shall I come to 
appear before the presence of God ! ” (Ps. xlii. 2) and how the 
divine voice made answer " Thine eyes shall behold the King 
in His beauty " (Is. xxxiii. 17). When he died, a bright Star 
appeared in broad daylight over the place of his passing, and 
was seen throughout the whole province. 

Novice. —That is credible enough; since the vision of that 
shining Star would show the virtues of the departing soul. 

Mon\. —That is well said; and it is to be remembered that 
it is an almoSt unheard-of thing for any Star to be visible in 
the sky when the sun is shining. Assuredly the appearance 
of it above the dying saint was a sign that his holy soul in the 
beauty of its virtues was .truly united to ChriSt the Sun of 
Righteousness (Mai. vi. 2). 

Novice. —I do not marvel that ChriSt should so excellently 
glorify the death of a saint whom He had so clearly called. 

Mon!{.— I will tell you now of the conversion of a monk, 
which was wrought, as you will clearly see, by the call of God, 
by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit alone, and by no other 
agency whatever. 


*5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of the abbot Gevard, who before his conversion was 
seen in a cowl by Dom Everard, the parish priefl of 
S. fames’ in Cologne. 

In the church of S. Maria im Capitol in Cologne there was 
a canon named Gevard, at that time in early manhood and 
much occupied with worldly vanities. At a certain festival 
at this church he was in his usual place, and there was present 
also the parish priest of S. James’, Dom Everard, a man both 
upright and spiritual and honoured throughout the city for 
his saintliness. Now when he came to the entrance of the 
choir and looked within, he saw Gevard tonsured and in the 
habit of a CiStercian monk Standing among his fellow canons; 
and he wondered greatly and said to himself: “ When can 
Gevard have become a monk ? ” And when he realised that 
this was a vision, he came to the conclusion that it was a 
prophecy, as indeed the event proved. And because the pur¬ 
pose of the divine will cannot be changed, it was necessary 
that what God had foreshadowed for him should in every 
particular be fulfilled. Wherefore after a short lapse of time 
it came about that this youth to the astonishment of many 
bade farewell to the world, and entered the monastery of 
Hemmenrode, and became a novice there. And when the 
aforesaid prieSt heard of this, he came to Hemmenrode, and 
visited Gevard and told to all the novices the Story of his 
vision. This I heard from father Frederick, a monk who 
was present when the holy man was speaking. Later Gevard 
made so great progress in Religion that he succeeded the lord 
Herman, who was the firSt abbot of PeterSthal; and under him 
the monastery made great advance as well in spiritual life as 
in worldly goods. Moreover if these recent examples have 
not proved enough, I will give you further undoubted proofs 
from the words of S. Bernard. 

Novice. —I shall indeed be glad to hear them, for they have 
not yet come within the limits of my reading. 


16 



Of Conversion 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Of the conversion of Mascelin, a cler\ of the Bishop 
of Mainz. 

Once when S. Bernard had gone into Germany to mediate 
peace between Lothaire king of the Romans and the grand¬ 
sons of his predecessor Henry, Albert the Bishop of Mainz 
sent a clerk of his, Mascelin by name, to meet him. When he 
said he had been sent by his lord to do him service, the man 
of God looked upon him for a while and said : “ Another Lord 
hath commissioned thee to serve Him. ” And when he, 
terrified by the words of the saint, continued to assert that he 
had been sent by the bishop, the blessed Bernard replied : 
“ Thou art mistaken; a greater Lord hath sent thee, even 
Chrift.” At laSl he understood the meaning of the saint, and 
said : “ Do you think that I desire to become a monk ? that be 
far from me; I have never dreamed of such a step, neither has 
the thought entered my mind.” Nevertheless although he 
persisted in his denial, the servant of God continued to affirm 
that it muSt moSt certainly come about, not because it was he 
that had originated the thought, but because God had so 
ordained. On that same journey the clerk was converted, 
bade farewell to the world and became a monk in Clairvaux. 
You see then how in this man there was no desire for conver¬ 
sion, and how the will of the Holy Spirit wrought in him 
unaided. 

Novice. —I agree with all you say; but give me, I pray you, 
an example of the contrary, how some are converted by the 
dired impulse of the evil spirit. 

Mon\. —Here is an example. 


CHAPTER IX. 

Of the conversion of Dottor Stephen de Vitry. 

We read in the life of the aforesaid father that once there 
came to Clairvaux MaSter Stephen de Vitry, a man of great, 


17 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


learning, for the sake of conversion, as everyone thought. 
While the whole valley was rejoicing at his coming, thinking 
him so important a convert, the blessed Bernard exclaimed, 
“ The devil hath brought him here : he hath come alone : 
alone shall he return.” For to this end he had come, that he 
might carry back again to the world certain novices whom he 
himself had formerly intruded in letters. That he might 
not cause pain to the weaker brethren, S. Bernard admitted 
the man, and although he knew well that he would not per¬ 
severe, permitted him to become a novice. But the evil spirit, 
after whispering all that year into the ears of the novices by 
the mouth of this servant of his, found no profit in his venture, 
and carried him back, Still alone, and with much confusion 
of face, according to the prophecy of the man of God. Listen 
also to another example from our own neighbourhood. 


CHAPTER X. 

Of the conversion of the priefl Goswin, who ran 
away during his probation, carrying flolen goods 
with him. 

There came to us two wandering prieSts seeking admission; 
but since there was scarcely any hope of their perseverance, 
their requeSt was refused. One went away, but the other, 
whose name was Goswin, begged so hard to be allowed to 
Stay that at laSt he was admitted. He continued on probation 
for barely six weeks and then one night during Matins, in 
obedience to the orders of him who had brought him there, he 
fled carrying with him what he had been able to Steal. 

'Novice. —Perhaps he came with guileless intentions. 

Mon\. —Assuredly not. While he was Still in the gueSt 
house with his companion, and was finding great difficulty in 
being admitted further, the one said to the other, “ Although 
they are so Stern with us now, we shall yet find means to 
deceive them.” This was overheard by one of our lay- 
brothers without their knowledge. 

18 



Of Conversion 


Still more often have we found men converted from a 
certain levity of mind. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of a canon of Cologne who withdrew before putting 
on the habit. 

A young canon of Cologne once came to us, more, as the 
sequel showed, from levity of mind than from any real desire 
for conversion, and we, especially the younger brethren, were 
overjoyed at his proposal, but the lord Gevard, our abbot, 
though much importuned to receive him, refused, because he 
recognised that levity was his only motive, seeing that he had 
gambled away his clothes and had come indeed clad in nothing 
but a tunic, and he soon returned by the way he came, nor 
was he ever heard again to speak of conversion. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Also of another youth who was taken from his 
probation for the purpose of paying his debts and 
never came back- 

Another youth of a noble and wealthy family, came to us 
without the knowledge of his parents and easily obtained 
admission; I do not wish to give the names either of this novice 
or of the laSt mentioned, for I Still hope that they may 
come back, and I am unwilling to cause them any unnecessary 
embarrassment. Three or perhaps five days after he became 
a novice, his friends came full of grief, and with many prayers 
exhorted him to return to the world. They knew that he had 
loSt a sum of money at some game and had taken the vows 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


more from chagrin than from devotion. For some time they 
could not prevail upon him, but at laSt succeeded in persuad¬ 
ing him to go and pay his debt on the condition that he should 
come back immediately. So not by the violence, but by the 
cunning of his friends he was drawn away and never came 
back. Now he had made his solemn vow with his hands be¬ 
tween the hands of the abbot, and for the breaking of this vow, 
he was brought before the consistory court. He defended him¬ 
self by producing a letter from the Pope’s legate and by every 
means in his power, asserting that he had made his vow 
thoughtlessly and in distress and confusion of mind; more¬ 
over, if that had not been the case, he would have followed 
the example of our abbot Henry. 

Novice .—May I know what that was ? 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Of the conversion of the abbot Henry. 

Mon \.—In the church of Bonn this same Henry was a 
wealthy canon, and, by the inspiration of God, he secretly left 
the deceitful world and, being kindled with a longing for the 
CiStercian Order, came to our house to seek admission. 
While he was Still in the gueSthouse, his two brothers, who 
were knights, heard of his flight, and being worldly men who 
set more value upon carnal and temporal pleasures than upon 
spiritual and eternal happiness, they were much troubled by 
what should have been a joy to them. They came in haSte 
and sent before them a young lad to take him a pretended 
message from his mother, so that they might use the oppor¬ 
tunity to tear him by force from the convent. And when this 
boy had brought him into the place of ambush, the knights 
ran up, threw him upon a horse in spite of his unwillingness 
and resistance, and to the great grief of the whole convent, 
took him away; for he had not yet put on the monk’s dress. 
For some time he Stayed quietly with them, but when they 


20 



Of Conversion 


had grown sure of him, he fled away again, and hastened to 
put on the habit that he might make the Sep irrevocable. His 
conduct was the exatfl opposite to that of the other two, because 
his conversion was not prompted by the vice of levity, but by 
the virtue of constancy. This example and some others that 
I purpose to set down here for edification, I remember that I 
have already written in the “ Moral Homilies upon the Infancy 
of the Saviour.” 

Novice .—Surely it is a grievous sin for a novice to return to 
the world. 

Monk {.—How serious is the fault may be easily seen from 
the punishment that follows it. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Of the miserable death of Leo, an apoHate novice. 

Before I joined the Order, there was a certain canon of the 
church of S. Maria im Capitol in Cologne who bade farewell to 
the world and assumed the habit of religion in Hemmenrode. 
His name was Leo and I knew him well. Two brothers of 
his, who were knights of some influence in the world, were 
very angry when they heard of his conversion and hurried off 
to Hemmenrode. Long they urged him to return to the 
world, and dwelt upon the austerities of the Order; then they 
changed their mode of attack and spoke of the entanglement 
of his debts, saying that it would be only right for him to come 
back firSt and settle them, and then they would let him return 
to serve God without opposition, nay more, they would them¬ 
selves escort him back. The wretched novice, led away by their 
arguments, consented to go, not perceiving the snare of the 
enemy. When the abbot Herman saw this, he groaned, and 
in deep grief said to the knights, “You are this day casting 
your brother out of Paradise and lodging him in hell.” Return¬ 
ing to his prebend, he became worse than before, giving more, 
pains to gratify his luSts than to pay his debts. After a few 


21 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


years he fell grievously sick, and by the juft judgment of God, 
the extremity of his sickness changed into madness, and when 
his friends admonished him concerning confession and com¬ 
munion, he kept crying out continually the names of various 
women with whom he had sinned when in health. Then they 
cut up puppies and placed their warm flesh upon his head as 
if for a remedy, but this profited him nothing; for no flesh 
could heal his madness, which was sent him as the penalty of 
apoftasy. Hear also an example of yet another novice. 


CHAPTER XV. 

Of the awful death of the novice Benneco, and 
how it is not lawful for novices to return to the 
world after taking the vow. 

A certain knight whose name was Benneco, a native of 
Palmirsdorp, was on probation with me as a novice, a man 
indeed of ripe age, but with little devotion to religion. He 
was tempted in many ways, but would not liften to the advice 
of his brethren, and as a dog to his vomit, so did the wretched 
man return to the world. When repeating this the second 
time, he was forftalled by sickness and died in his own 
house and in secular dress without giving any sign of repent¬ 
ance. At his death a fearful ftorm of wind raged round the 
house where he lay, and a vaft number of crows hovered over 
the roof; and these portents caused so much panic that none 
was left to tend the dying man save only one old woman. See 
then how they die, who depart from God. 

Novice. —I think that that ftorm of wind and multitude of 
cawing crows was an evident sign of the presence of demons. 

Mon\. —Surely; for the Saviour saith, “ No man putting 
his hand to the plough and looking back is worthy of the king¬ 
dom of heaven.” That knight, because he “ looked back ” 
in apoftacy, because he would not repent of his sin, caused 
joy among the minifters of hell. 


22 



Of Conversion 


Novice .—If it is so mortal a sin for a novice to return to the 
world, what then is the meaning of S. Benedict's instruction, 
that when the rule has been read over to the novice, it should 
be said to him: “ This is the law under which thou desireSf 
to enliSt; if thou canSt keep it, go forward; if not, go in peace.” 

Mon \.—Of the two ills the holy father prefers that the 
novice should depart while Still a novice rather than desert 
as a monk after making his profession. Whence he judges 
the novice to be unbound with regard to the place, but bound 
by his vow. Quite apart from those who have put on religious 
dress and have once and again promised constancy in the 
presence of the whole Chapter, even secular persons, who 
have by word alone made the vow between the hands of the 
abbot are by no means permitted to follow a secular calling or 
to enter into matrimony. In cases of necessity the lord Pope 
will give a novice a dispensation to exchange into a less severe 
Order, but even he cannot permit him to return to a secular 
life. Thus, from what I have said you can see that some are 
converted by the direct call of God, while others are prompted 
by the instigation of the evil spirit, and others again by mere 
levity of mind. That many are converted by the ministry 
of others is indisputable; for as of old in the tabernacle of God 
curtain drew curtain, so to-day in the church of God brother 
draws brother in the three ways of exhortation, prayer and the 
example of a holy life, a triple cord which is not easily broken. 

Novice .—May I have examples of this ? 


CHAPTER XVI. 

0 / the conversion of Henry the cripple of Clairvaux. 

Eleven years ago there died in Clairvaux a monk called 
Henry, an aged and holy man, crippled indeed and broken in 
body, but tender and loving in heart; to him God gave many 
consolations, often and in many ways revealing Himself to 
him; he was mighty in the spirit of prophecy and full of all 


2 3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


spiritual grace. At the time of the general Chapter, many 
abbots would come to visit him and ever received much edifica¬ 
tion from his discourse. Gevard, our lord abbot, was his 
familiar friend, and to him he related the whole Story of his 
conversion. When S. Bernard was preaching the cross in the 
diocese of ConStance it happened that Henry was present to 
hear him, and since he was a rich and powerful noble with 
many caSUes, who with all his wealth had many crimes upon 
his conscience, he was pricked to the heart by the sermon of 
the man of God, and said to him, “ Sir, if I were not terrified 
by that cuStom which I understand prevails in your Order ,—1 
mean that you send indifferently to all parts of the earth those 
who join your company,—I would submit myself to you forth¬ 
with.” The saint replied, “ I will not receive you with any 
conditions; but this I can promise you, that if you become a 
monk in Clairvaux, in that monastery you shall surely die.” 
When he heard this he made his submission; and because he 
was well skilled in both French and German, he was 
appointed the abbot’s interpreter. Now a servant of his, a 
crossbowman, a man of cruel temper and prone to the shedding 
of blood, when he saw what had happened, was maddened by 
the conversion of his maSter, and placed a bolt upon his cross¬ 
bow that he might slay the abbot. And immediately he was 
Stricken by the angel of the Lord and fell back and expired. 
Henry, terrified by his sudden death, and above all appalled 
that his soul should be loSt, and knowing the holiness of the 
abbot and his power of working miracles, fell at his feet, 
humbly imploring him with great insistence to deliver the 
wretched man from the jaws of hell by restoring him to life. 
The blessed saint was moved to compassion by the grief of one 
and the perdition of the other, and on his knees besought God 
with tears, who quickly raised the dead. And he, thus 
restored to life, threw himself at the feet of his deliverer, and 
prayed him with much weeping to receive him as a convert. 
And the holy man made answer : “ I know that by nature you 
are a wanton and perverse, and that it is not fitting that you 
should live among the religious; therefore I bid you take the 
cross and pass over the seas, and quickly find your end in 
fighting againSt the Saracens.” So he did; he received the 

24 



Of Conversion 


cross, passed over the sea, fought againSt the enemies of the 
cross, was slain in battle, and came to appear before the 
presence of God. At the same time a paralytic woman cried 
out after the man of God, beseeching health of him; and since 
she could not follow him, for he had already gone on before, 
Henry, taking pity on her, lifted her on to his horse and 
brought her into the presence of the saint, and set her down 
when she had received his blessing. She then, made whole, 
flood upright, and full of joy went to her home on her own 
feet. This Story I heard from the lips of Gevard our lord 
abbot. This is that Henry who was once sent by the same 
holy father into a far-off country where the ice broke under 
his feet and he was drawn far under the water; from which 
deadly peril he was miraculously saved by the blessing of the 
saint. Here you have an example of one who was converted 
by preaching. But why do I seek examples from outside 
when I can rejoice that this which I tell of others was truly 
accomplished in myself? 


CHAPTER XVII. 

Of the conversion of the author. 

At the time when King Philip firSf devastated the diocese 
of Cologne, I happened to be travelling thither in the company 
of Gevard the lord abbot of Walberberg. On the way 
he exhorted me to conversion with much fervour but without 
success, until he told me of that glorious vision of Clairvaux, 
and how it is related that at a certain harveSI time when the 
monks were reaping in the valley, the Virgin Mary, the holy 
mother of God, and her mother, S. Anne, and S. Mary Mag¬ 
dalene, in full view of a holy man who was Standing on the 
opposite hill, came down the mountain side into the valley in 
a great flood of light, and wiped the sweat from the brows of 
the monks and fanned them with the flap of their sleeves, and 
the reSt of the wonderful Story. I was much moved by his 


25 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


recital of this vision and promised the abbot that I would go 
to no other monastery for my conversion, if indeed God should 
give me the will. At that time I had bound myself by a vow 
of pilgrimage to S. Mary of Rocamadour, and I was con¬ 
strained to fulfil it. Three months later when this was 
accomplished, I came to PeterSthal without consulting any of 
my friends, but guided and urged by the mercy of God alone, 
and there fulfilled in deed that to which I had committed 
myself in word, and became a novice. AlmoSt the same 
experience befel another monk of ours, Gerlach de Dinge. 

Novice .—This Story will surely be useful as an example to 
those who are Still living in the world. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

Of Gerlach de Dinge who was converted by hearing 
a sermon. 

Three years ago Dom Henry, who is now our abbot, while 
visiting monasteries in Friesland on behalf of the abbot of 
Clairvaux, happened to be entertained in the caStle of a cer¬ 
tain knight named Sueder. To this knight, who welcomed him 
with much eagerness, he related, as he loved to do, some of the 
wonderful things that had come to pass in the Order; and 
among the company who listened to him was this Gerlach, the 
knight’s nephew and a canon of the cathedral of Utrecht. 
This man received the seed of the word in the field of his heart 
as in a good ground, and not long afterwards brought forth 
fruit a hundredfold. For he, as he told me later when we 
were on probation together, began from that hour to incline 
towards conversion and to consider diligently how he might 
satisfy the desire that had been born in him. An opportunity 
came to him of adting without arousing suspicion, and he set 
out for Paris as if to continue his Studies; and after some little 
Stay there he came to us, and becoming a novice, turned all 
his Studies to spiritual learning. From these two examples 

26 



Of Conversion 


it is clear that some are converted by preaching. Whoso 
heareth the voice of the Lord calling him by inward speech 
muil needs desire to call others by the word of exhortation. 

Novice. —The examples you have given me about preaching 
have fully satisfied me; now I pray you give me some about 
prayer. 

Mon\. —Juft as the exhortation of preaching converts 
many, so does the power of prayer draw an exceeding great 
number to the Order. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of the conversion of Henry, brother of the King 
of France. 

It happened that Henry, brother of the King of France, 
came once to Clairvaux to speak with the blessed Bernard on 
some worldly matter, and during his visit he passed through 
the whole convent, asking all the monks for their prayers. The 
venerable abbot, besides other advice that he gave him with 
regard to the life of salvation, said, “ I truft in the Lord that 
you will not die in your present condition, but that you will 
quickly prove by experience how great is the power of those 
prayers you have sought.” And indeed the proof was given 
that very day to the wonder of many, who rejoiced over the 
conversion of so exalted a personage. His own people 
mourned and bewailed him as inconsolably as if they saw 
him lying dead before their eyes. 

Novice. —I am not surprised that he should be so quickly 
converted, who had already shown himself so apt for con¬ 
version. 

Mon\. —If you ascribe his conversion more to his own 
merits than to the prayers of the good monks, liften to what 
happened afterwards. When his companions and his whole 
household were, as I have said, lamenting for Henry, a certain 
Parisian named Andrew, driven almoft to madness by an 

2 7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


intolerable access of grief, kept crying out with curses and 
blasphemies that his master was beside himself, witless, feeble¬ 
minded. When Henry besought the saint to labour for the 
conversion of this man, he was answered : “ Do not be anxious 
on his behalf, his soul juft now is in bitterness, but he is yours/’ 
He repeated these words in the hearing of Andrew, and he, 
in his absolute abhorrence of the monaftic life, said silently in 
his heart, as he afterwards confessed : “ Now will I prove you 
to be a false prophet in this thing, for of this at leaft I am sure, 
that what you have said will never come to pass. I will 
upbraid you with this in the presence of the King and princes 
in some notable gathering, that all men may know you for a 
lying prophet.” The next day he went away, calling down 
all manner of curses upon the monaftery, and wishing that the 
valley itself might be torn up from its foundations. That 
very night he was conquered and, so to speak, bound hand 
and foot by the Holy Spirit of God, whose grace so drew him 
and wrought in him that he could scarce wait for the dawn, 
when he hurried back to the monaftery (to the aftonishment 
of all), and showing himself a second Saul of Tarsus, made his 
submission to the saint. Where, I ask you, was in this man 
any willingness to be converted or any aptitude for conversion ? 
See how this Andrew turned away from grace with all his 
ftrength, and how the power of the prayers of the saints was 
mighty to convert him. 

Not/ice. —These are indeed stupendous wonders, and surely 
it seems to me that the prayers of the faithful ought to be 
coveted by sinners more than all else in the world. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Of the conversion of one who appeared to another 
at night before the gate in the guise of an infant. 

There was a monk in our house who, when he entered the 
Order, left behind him in the world an only brother not yet 

28 



Of Conversion 


old enough to take the vows. Fearing that he might become 
ensnared in the hindrances of the world and his conversion be 
thus impeded, he prayed to the Lord daily, and especially to 
His blessed mother, that in answer to his prayers He might 
deign to haSten on his conversion; for well he knew how easily 
the young may be turned from their purpose and how 
therefore every hour spent in the world was full of danger. 
The merciful Lord gave heed to the pious zeal of the monk for 
his brother, and put it into the heart of our abbot to admit 
the boy, although he could not receive one so young without 
some risk of exceeding his duty. On the night that he put on 
the habit, one of our priefls saw this vision concerning him; 
it seemed to him that a mofi beautiful matron flood before 
the monaftery gate, holding a beautiful boy in her arms; and 
when he asked her whose boy it was, she replied, “ He is the 
son of the monk—” mentioning the elder brother by name, 
and at the same time giving the name of the new novice. And 
then the monk who saw the vision realised that this mofl 
beautiful matron was the blessed mother of God. According 
to the apofUe, whoso by word or example teacheth another to 
live the good life, begetteth him as his own son in Christ 
(i Cor. iv. 15 ; Phile. 10). The fadt that the ever venerated 
Virgin Mary deigned to present him at the monastery gate, 
as a mother might present her child, shows plainly that the 
aforesaid monk had by his prayers obtained the conversion of 
his brother through her infinite merit. 

Novice .—These examples have convinced me of the power 
of prayer; it remains that I should also be convinced of the 
power of good example. 

Monk ..—Know this, that many, without any exhortation 
of preaching and unaided by any special prayers, are daily 
drawn to the Order by good example alone, and by the proofs 
of devotion, discipline and sandlity which they behold. 


29 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter XXI. 

Of the mon\s Theodoric and Bernard, who at the 
sight of a supplication for mercy at the burial of a 
dead man, resolved upon conversion. 

When brother Theodoric our fellow monk was Still a young 
man in the world, he came to visit a certain priest, a relative 
of his, who was then a novice; but not with any idea of being 
himself converted. It happened at this time that a dead 
brother was being buried, and after the interment, when the 
antiphon “ O clementissime Domine ” had been said, and 
when all the monks, gathered round the tomb, were humbly 
beseeching pardon, and repeating, “ Lord have mercy upon 
the sinner,” he was so pricked to the heart and so kindled with 
a desire of conversion, that though he had resided the exhor¬ 
tations of the prior Gevard, now with many tears he sought 
permission to take the vows, and with difficulty obtained it. 
Often during our probation did he tell me that this was the 
way of his conversion. Brother Bernard, too, of our convent, 
told me that it was the sight of a similar supplication for mercy 
in the monastery of Villers, that fird gave birth in him to the 
desire of conversion. 

Novice. —It is surprising that so small a thing should work 
so great salvation in the soul. 

Mon\. —Why should it surprise you? In size a pill is but 
a small thing, but in efficacy its power is very great; it 
traverses all the channels of the body, dissolves and ejeds ill 
humours and makes a sick man whole. If so great good 
results from the reception of one little material pill, why 
should you wonder that a greater power, and all the greater 
because spiritual, should come from the witnessing of one 
supplication for mercy. Hear this also. 


30 



Of Conversion 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of the conversion of Dom Adolphus, bishop of 
Osnaburg. 

Dom Adolphus, a youth of noble birth, and now bishop of 
Osnaburg, had, when a canon of Cologne, come to a house of 
our Order called Kloster-Camp. Here, after mass, he was 
kneeling in prayer in the church, and saw how the monks, 
both young and old, hastened to the different altars, and there 
bared each his back to the scourge, humbly confessing his sins. 
This sight, as was told me afterwards by an intimate friend of 
his, wrought so Strongly in the heart of the young man that he 
could not tear himself away from the convent, but despising 
all the pomp of the world gave himself wholly to God, and 
then put on the sacred dress of the monk. And in this new 
life he so far succeeded that not long after, recommended both 
by his noble birth and his sandtity, he ascended the episcopal 
throne in the aforesaid church. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of the conversion of Henry the chamberlain. 

This was the manner of the conversion of brother Henry, 
our chamberlain. When he was a clerk and canon of the 
cathedral of Treves, and holding many other ecclesiastical 
Stipends, he fell ill. In the hope of recovering his health, he 
took money and arranged to go down the river to Cologne to 
consult one of the many physicians in that town, and also to 
derive some benefit from the change of air. When he came 
opposite our monastery, he enquired the name of the place, 
and when he learnt it, he said that he would like to ask 


31 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


hospitality of the monastery, and so sent forward his servants 
to the abbot with a request for horses to take him up the hill, 
and these were duly sent. That same night he was converted, 
whether by some vision that he saw, or by some Strong 
impulse, I know not, but in the morning he sent back the 
boat with his sorrowing servants, and putting on the monk’s 
dress according to rule, made his permanent abode with us. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Of the conversion of the priefl Gerlach. 

Brother Gerlach, who is a prieft and our fellow monk told 
me that he conceived his firft desire of conversion from the 
signs of devotion that he saw in one of our brethren. One 
day when this monk, who is well known to you, was celebrat¬ 
ing mass in his parish, he showed so great a grace of tears, 
as indeed was his wont, that Gerlach who was Standing at his 
side as server, observed this grace with wonder and gave thanks 
to the Lord. From that hour he so fell in love with the Order 
that he could not reft till he had been made a member of it. 
Many things more I could tell you of those who have been 
converted by the example of others, but I muft be careful not 
to be too long. 

Novice .—From all you have told me it is clear that some 
are converted by the word of exhortation, others by the power 
of prayer, and others again by the example of a religious life. 

Mon \.—I said above that there are many other causes that 
are the occasion of conversion to many, such as sickness, 
poverty, captivity, the brand of some infamy, danger to this 
present life, the fear or the vision of the pains of hell, or simply 
the longing for the heavenly life. 

Novice .—I pray you add some examples of these. 

Mon \.—We see daily how men are driven to conversion 
by sickness. 



Of Conversion 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Of Ludwig the \night, whose health came hac^ to 
him after he had made a vow of conversion. 

Three years ago a knight named Ludwig, of the caflle of 
Altenahr, was in extremity of sickness, and the lord abbot was 
summoned to visit the sick man. When the illness grew upon 
him, and the knight was already in despair, he was advised by 
the abbot to submit to the Order, and to repeat aloud the vow 
of conversion according to cuflom. Both he and his wife 
gladly acquiesced in this advice, and no sooner had he placed 
his hands within the hands of the abbot and made the vow 
than his appearance began to change in such a way that the 
deathly pallor passed from his face, and the livid colour gave 
way to a healthy flush, so that all those who flood by were 
flupefied, marvelling at the gift of God to the dying man. 
That the merciful Lord might the more plainly show that He 
had healed the sick man because of his vow to enter the Order, 
this same knight quickly became convalescent without the 
sweating or bleeding or sneezing which always accompany 
recovery from such a sickness. Nor was he ungrateful for the 
divine mercies, but caused himself forthwith to be carried to 
our monaftery where he became firft novice, and then monk, 
and not long after departed to be with the Lord. 

Novice.- —I gather from your words that you believe that a 
sick man may prolong his days by penitence and prayer. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

How God sometimes prolongs the life of a sinner 
for his penitence; the example of Heze\iah. 

Mon\. —That is not quite what I mean, for I do not think 
that any man can prolong the time allotted to him by God; 
but I believe that he can sometimes escape imminent death. 
Indeed, if that were not so, it would be vain for the Church 


33 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

to pray for the sick. Since the prayers of the saints bring back 
life to the dead, how shall they not effedt a lesser thing, and 
give health to those in mortal sickness? When Hezekiah lav 
sick in penitence and tears, it was said to him by God through 
Isaiah, / have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears; behold 
l will add fifteen years to thy days (Isaiah xxxviii. 5). Upon 
which passage Haymo speaks thus, “We must underhand 
that, as it was granted to the firft man that he should be 
immortal on condition of his obedience to God’s commands, 
so in the foreknowledge of God the years here are granted on 
condition that he live humbly and innocently before Him; 
for those years, which pride had taken from him, humility 
hath restored. 

Novice. —These are deep matters, and I pray you to explain 
them more fully by the testimony of the Scriptures, because 
the problem of Divine foreknowledge has been the cause of 
error to many souls. 

Mon{. —The problem of Divine foreknowledge is indeed 
for me altogether insoluble, for who hath \nown the mind of 
the Lord ? or who hath been His counsellor ? (Rom. xi. 34). 
Nevertheless the authority of the Scriptures can be found for 
what I have said above. The holy Job, speaking of the 
uncertainty of human life, says, Thou hafl appointed his 
bounds that he cannot pass (Job xiv. 5). Notice that you have 
in this passage a boundary of life allotted to man by God, 
and that this boundary may not be passed. Yet a man by evil 
life may sometimes anticipate this boundary as the Psalmift 
bears witness when he says, The bloodthirfly and deceitful men 
shall not live out half their days (Ps. lv. 25). If it is not 
allowed them to live out half the days which they might have 
lived but for their sins, it is clear that they die far within the 
limits firft assigned to them. In the same way the good some¬ 
times deserve to anticipate their appointed end, as it is said 
about one good man as a type of all the good : Yea, speedily 
was he ta\en away, left that wickedness should alter his under- 
fianding, or deceit beguile his soul (Wisd. iv. 11). 

Therefore let foolish men cease to prattle foolish words and 
to cherish foolish thoughts because in these days there are few 
princes and few nobles who fulfil their days and come to a 


34 



Of Conversion 


good old age. Why is this ? Assuredly because they plunder 
the poor, and are choked before their time by the tears of the 
poor. Would you like to hear this illustrated by the story 
of a tyrant, who sinned the more recklessly because he believed 
that no sin could shorten his predefined days? 

Novice. —Indeed, I eagerly wish it. 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

Of predestination and the errors of the Landgrave 
Ludwig. 

Mont —I have heard from a certain religious man that the 
Landgrave Ludwig, who died two years ago, had fallen into 
a grievous error which was perilous, not only to his own soul, 
but also to the property of his subjects. He was one of the 
worSt of robbers and tyrants, who made innumerable exadtions 
from the people committed to his charge, and took violent 
possession of the property of countless churches. When he 
was taken to task for these and many other wrongs by his 
spiritual advisers, who put before him in confession the punish¬ 
ment of the wicked, and the happiness of the chosen, he made 
this miserable reply: “ If I am one of the eledt, no sins will 
be able to take from me the Kingdom of Heaven; if I am 
already foredoomed, no good deeds will be able to confer it 
upon me.” And as I have often heard from father Conrad, 
our aged fellow monk, he used to put forward as an argument 
to excuse himself to those who reasoned with him that verse 
of the PsalmiSt, All the whole heavens are the Lord's; the earth 
hath He given to the children of men (Ps. cxv. 16), for he was 
well versed in letters, and the more hardened on this account. 
When God-fearing men said to him, “ Sir, have pity upon 
your soul; cease to sin, left the Lord, provoked by your sins, 
slay the sinner in the midst of his sin,” he again replied, 
“ When the appointed day comes for me to die, I shall die; 
I shall not be able to put it off by living well, nor to put it 
forward by living ill.” God in His mercy willing to bring 


35 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


him to a better mind, and to call him back though Straying 
so far away, began to scourge him with a sore disease. His 
dodtor was summoned, a good and wise man, and no mean 
expert in theology as well as in medicine, to whom the prince 
said, “ As you see, I am very ill; give all your care to restoring 
me to health.” The do<ftor, bearing in mind the peculiar 
error of the man, answered, “ Sir, if the day of your death 
has come, no care of mine can save you from it; but if you are 
not deStined to die of this sickness, all medicine will be super¬ 
fluous.” And he : “ Why do you make me such a reply? If 
I negledt myself, or take the advice of unskilled persons, I shall 
die before my time.” When the dodtor heard this, he laughed 
aloud and, seizing the opportunity, said, “ Sir, if you believe 
that your life can be prolonged by the power of medicine, 
why do you refuse to believe in the virtue of penitence and 
good works which are the medicine of the soul? Without 
these the soul muSt die, without them none can come to the 
glorious health of the future life.” The Landgrave, recognis¬ 
ing the force of these words, and perceiving that there was 
good reason in them, said, “ For the future, be not only the 
physician of my body, but of my soul also, for by your healing 
tongue God hath delivered me from a fatal error.” 

Novice .—Did not this prince live a good life afterwards? 

Mon \.—Alas no! He made promises in words which he 
did not carry out in deeds. You will learn in the sequel what 
sort of an end was his, and under how great a burden of sin 
he died. But now let us go back to our former subjedl, and 
leave this long digression which has followed upon your 
question. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

How some are converted through poverty. 

As the wholesome medicine of sickness draws many to the 
Order, so too a vaft number are driven to enter by the furnace 

36 



Of Conversion 


of poverty. Often have we seen and ftill daily do we see 
persons who have been living for some time in wealth and 
honour in the world, such as knights and merchants, coming 
to the Order under the compulsion of poverty, preferring to 
supply their need in the service of God, in whose hand are 
all riches, than to endure the shamefacedness of poverty among 
their relations and friends. When a certain honourable man 
was explaining to me the way of his conversion, he added, 
“ Certainly, if my affairs had continued to be prosperous, I 
should never have entered the Order.” I have known some 
who, when their fathers or brothers were taking the vows, 
refused to follow their example then, but when they had 
consumed all their property, they came covering their necessity 
with the cloak of devotion, or rather, making a virtue of their 
necessity. 

Novice. —It is not necessary to ask for examples of such 
cases, since we see so many come to the Order, converted on 
that account; but happy are they who ftill possessed riches, and 
counted them nothing for the sake of Chrift. 

Mon\. —Not happy for possessing riches, but for despising 
them. The widow’s two mites are more pleasing to God than 
all the alms of the wealthy. Know also that some are con¬ 
verted through shame for some fault, or through the brand of 
some disgrace. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of a canon who was converted through shame for 
a theft he had committed. 

There was a young novice in our house who was drawn to 
the Order by the following circumftances. He had been a 
canon of a church in Cologne, and had ftolen something from 
his Superior, an honeft clerk in whose house he was living at 
the time. It was a small 1 theft, but he was caught in the aft 

1 Of a single apple. J. Strange. 


37 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


by the servants and was so much ashamed that he fled from 
the world, sought out our monastery and became a novice. 
He preferred to serve God than to endure so great confusion of 
face among his fellows. I had a poft in that Church at the 
time, and underflood the cause of his conversion to be as I 
have flated, and I was full of fears, because such a conversion 
did not seem likely to have lafling results. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Of a youth, in whose case a nun, made pregnant by 
him, was the cause of conversion. 

There was another youth who violated a certain nun, and 
urged both by shame and fear, because she was nobly born, he 
took the vows in our Order. So that what the devil had pre¬ 
pared for his ruin became for him an occasion of salvation. 
The youth spoken of above deserted the Order, by the jufl 
judgement of God, but this one is ftill persevering, the mercy 
of God preserving him. 

Novice. —As I see it, it is not of him that willeth nor 
of him that runneth, but of God that showeth mercy 
(Rom. ix. 16). 

Mon^.—' That is true. That some also are converted by 
danger to this present life, you shall learn by the following 
example. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

Of a nobleman who was saved from a capital 
sentence by conversion. 

When King Otto went to Rome to be crowned Emperor, 
he left his kingdom upon the Moselle to be governed by his 

38 



Of Conversion 


brother Henry, the Count Palatine, before whom a certain 
noble was brought to trial as a freebooter and was by him 
condemned to death. There came to the court, Daniel, the 
abbot of Schoenau, and by his prayers succeeded in obtaining 
from the Palatine permission for him to live and expiate his 
sins in the Ciftercian monaflery. Thus a man who was con¬ 
demned to death for his crimes escaped the sentence by the 
grace of conversion. I have often heard similar ftories, how 
wicked men, condemned to various punishments for their 
offences, have been delivered by benefit of the Order. 

Novice. —Although these may seem small matters, yet they 
are not to be regarded lightly, because they have a real value 
for edification. 

Mon\. —Let those, who are tempted to think lightly of 
them, hear great and terrible things about those who have been 
converted through fear of the pains of hell. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of the conversion of the abbot of Morimond, who 
died and returned to life. 

Twenty four years ago there was an abbot of Morimond who 
was brought to the Order in the way I am going to tell you; 
the fiory was told me by Dom Herman the abbot of 
Marienflatt, who saw this same abbot and heard him speak, 
and watched all his adtions attentively, as of one who had died 
and lived again. When he was a young man, he Studied at 
Paris with the many other scholars there. Now since 
he was of slow intelligence and weak memory, he was 
scarcely able to grasp or retain any knowledge whatever, and 
so he became a butt to all, for they judged him little better 
than an idiot; and this was a source of great trouble to him, 
and because of it his life became a burden. It happened that 
one day he fell sick, and lo! Satan appeared to him and said 
“ If you will do me homage, I will make you the greatest: 
scholar in the world. ” When he heard this the youth was 


39 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

terrified and replied to the suggestion of the devil: “ Get thee 
behind me, Satan; never shalt thou be my maSter, nor I thy 
man. ” And when he thus refused, the evil spirit took his 
hand, opened it with some violence and thruSt a Stone into it, 
saying, “ As long as you keep this Stone in your hand, all 
knowledge will be yours ” and so disappeared. The youth 
rose from his bed, went into the schools, where he propounded 
hard questions, and easily surpassed all others in disputation, 
to the astonishment of all who wondered at the knowledge and 
eloquence of the erStwhile idiot, and were Stupified at so 
marvellous a change. But he kept the secret well, nor would 
he disclose to anyone the means by which he had gained his 
extraordinary learning. 

Not long after he fell ill with a mortal sickness, 
and the prieSt was summoned to hear his confession. 
AmongSt other things he confessed how he had received 
the Stone from the devil, and with the Stone his Strange 
knowledge. The prieSt cried out, “ Throw it away, unhappy 
man, or you will never come to the knowledge of God.” 
“ Stricken with terror, he threw away the Stone, which till 
now he had always kept in his hand, and with the Stone gave 
up all his false knowledge. What need of more ? The clerk 
died; his body was laid in the church, and all the scholars 
took their places round the bier to sing the psalms in the 
Christian fashion. But his soul was carried away by demons, 
who bore it to a deep and awful ravine, from which a sul¬ 
phurous vapour unceasingly arose. There they placed them¬ 
selves on either side of the valley, and those on the one side 
hurled the miserable soul as if they were playing ball, and 
those on the other caught it in their hands as it hurtled through 
the miSt. So exceedingly sharp were their claws that they 
far surpassed the sharpest needle or the keeneSt point of Steel, 
nor, as he afterwards said, could any kind of torture known 
upon earth compare with the agony he felt, both when they 
hurled and when they caught him. 

But the Lord had mercy upon him; and there came a mes¬ 
senger from heaven, a Being of noble and awful aspedt, who 
delivered this word to the demons: “ Listen,” he said “ It is 
the command of the moSt High that you release this soul whom 


40 



Of Conversion 


you deceived.” At once they all obeyed and released the 
soul, nor presumed any more to lift finger againfl him. So 
now the soul returned to the body and reanimated the lifeless 
limbs so that he revived and flood up, bringing panic-flricken 
flight upon all the scholars who were sitting orderly about 
the coffin. Coming down from the bier, he told all men that 
he was alive, and made clear more by adion than by speech 
all that he had seen and heard. For taking the vows immed¬ 
iately in the Ciftercian Order, he was so find with himself 
and so ruthless in chaflising his body, that all who saw him 
could clearly underfland that he had indeed experienced the 
pains of Purgatory, nay, rather those of hell. 

Novice .—I should like you to make it plain to me, whether 
that place in which he was tormented, was within the bounds 
of hell or of Purgatory. 

Mon \.—If that valley was a part of hell, it is agreed that 
he muft have made his confession without contrition. And 
this is clearly proved from this, that, by the teflimony of the 
heavenly messenger, he underwent that punishment because 
he had consented to keep the flone. 

Novice .—Mufl we say then that he consented to the devil? 

Monl (.—-He did not consent so far as to do him homage, 
but he did consent in this, that he did not at once hurl the flone 
from him, but kept it carefully as a means of knowledge. 
Indeed he was so enamoured of it that not even in sickness 
did he at firfl lay it aside, but only with great reludance cafl 
it from him at the urgent bidding of the priefl. If I should 
say that that place was in Purgatory, then I am confronted 
with these difficulties; firfl the absence of the holy angels, and 
then the presence of the demons and the fad that they carried 
off his soul at death, and were permitted to torment it so 
cruelly. Mafler Rudolph, the Scholafticus 1 at Cologne, 
whose school I used to frequent, taught us that no demon 
might ever touch the souls of the eled when they left their 
earthly prison, but that the blessed angels carried to the places 
of Purgatory all those that were worthy thereof. He used to 
illuflrate it like this: It is not fitting that gold should be puri¬ 
fied by a charcoal burner, but by a jeweller. Later, on account 

1 A canon charged with the direftion of the schools. 

41 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

of the sanftity of his life, he who had been thus recalled from 
death was made abbot in Morimond, one of our four chief 
houses, a man holy and devout in the sight of all. When I 
asked abbot Herman about him, whether he had ever seen 
him laugh, because it is said that those who have risen from 
the dead are never known to laugh, he answered: “ Know 
that I myself was on the watch for this very thing, nor could 
I ever deteft in him any inclination to levity, so serious was 
he and so gently patient. Never did I see him even smile, nor 
utter any trivial word.” 

Novice. —I wonder if he disclosed anything about the form 
or powers of the soul. 

Mon{. —Yes; he said that his soul was like a glassy spherical 
vessel, that it had eyes both before and behind, that it was 
filled with all knowledge, and nothing could escape its range 
of vision. He told the scholars all that they had been doing 
while they had been sitting round his bier, “ you ” he said 
“ were playing dice: you were pulling each other’s hair ; 
and you were diligently chanting the psalms.” 

Novice. —I am glad to learn that this man, who put off his 
body and saw and heard so many things in pain, passed by 
all other Religious Orders of the Church and chose to enter 
ours. 

Mon\. —Rightly ought you to rejoice; and I will tell you 
another flory that will greatly enhance this joy of yours. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Of a dead cler\, who had been skilled in necro¬ 
mancy and who appeared to a living companion and 
persuaded him to enter the Order. 

There were two young men in Toledo—as I have read, for 
the flory was not told me by word of mouth—who used to 
ftudy necromancy together, and it happened that one of them 
was seized with mortal illness; and when he was near to death, 
the other begged that he would appear to him within twenty 


42 



Of Conversion 


days. “ Yes, ” he said, “ I will, if permission be granted 
me.” Now on that twentieth day the survivor was sitting 
in a church before the image of the Blessed Virgin, and read¬ 
ing psalms for the soul of his friend, when lo 1 that wretched 
one appeared, showing his torments by heartbreaking groans. 
And when he asked him where he was and how it fared with 
him, he replied; “ Woe is me, for I am eternally lost on account 
of that diabolical art which I learnt: for it is the true death of 
the soul, as its title shows. And I counsel you, as my only 
friend, to give up this accursed science, and take up a Religious 
life and make amends to God for your sins.” And when 
the living man begged him to show him the safeSt way of 
living, he replied, “ There is no surer path than the way of 
the CiStercian Order; nor if you search through every way of 
life will you find any that furnishes fewer souls for hell than 
that Order." He told him much else which I omit for the 
sake of brevity, since they are all written in the book of the 
Visions of Clairvaux. In fine, the youth abjured necromancy 
without delay and became novice and then monk in the Cis¬ 
tercian Order. 

Novice .—I admit that my heartfelt joy is doubled by this 
Story. 

Mon\.— Will you hear about a third clerk who was con¬ 
verted in almost similar fashion ? 

Novice .—Indeed I very greatly desire it. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Also of a clerk, who came to the Order after seeing 
the pains of the Landgrave Ludwig. 

Mon{.— From an aged brother of ours named Conrad, who 
has often told me the Story, I learnt what I now relate. He 
is now nearly a hundred years old, and, being himself a native 
of Thuringia and having seen much service in arms before 
his conversion, knew a great deal about the life of the Land¬ 
grave Ludwig, of whom I told a long Story above in the 27th 


43 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

chapter. When he died, he left two sons as his heirs, namely, 
Ludwig, who died in the firft expedition to Jerusalem which 
took place in the days of the Emperor Frederick, and Herman 
who succeeded him, and died only recently. This younger 
Ludwig, who was quite a reasonable and humane man, and 
to say truth a good deal less evil than moft other of the petty 
tyrants of our day, put forth the following proclamation : “ If 
there be any one, ” it ran, “ who can give me true information 
about the soul of my father, with unmistakable evidence of 
its truth, I will beStow upon him a good farm.” 

This came to the ears of an impoverished knight, 
who had a brother clerk skilled in necromancy, to whom 
he pointed out the promises of the Landgrave; but he 
replied, “ My dear brother, it is true that I once used 
to call up the devil by means of incantations; true also 
that I used to get from him any information that I 
desired; but for a long time now I have renounced all 
those arts, and all intercourse with him.” But when the 
knight continued to urge him in season and out of season, 
reminding him of their poverty and the promised reward, the 
clerk was overcome at laSt by his brother’s insistence, and 
summoned the demon. Immediately he appeared and asked 
what he wanted. The clerk answered : “ I ask your pardon 
for having negle<fted you so long. Show me I pray you where 
dwells the soul of my maSter the Landgrave.” Said the 
demon, “ If you will come with me, I will show him to you.” 
And he, “ Much do I desire to see him, if I can do so without 
danger to my life.” And the devil answered “ I swear to 
you by the MoSl High, and by His awful tribunal, that if you 
will truSt yourself to my good faith, I will take you there 
safely and bring you back unharmed.” Then the clerk, 
taking his life in his hands for his brother’s sake, climbed on 
to the shoulders of the demon, who quickly brought him to 
the gate of hell. Looking within, the clerk gazed upon those 
abodes of horror, where all manner of pains were being 
endured; and he saw there a demon of terrible aspetft crouch¬ 
ing over the closed mouth of a pit. At this sight the clerk 
was seized with a trembling in all his limbs : and that demon 
cried out to the demon who was carrying him : “ Who is that 


44 



Of Conversion 


you have upon your back ? Bring him here.” And the 
other replied: “ It is a friend of ours, and I have sworn by 
your mighty power that I will not hurt him, but will show 
him the soul of his lord the Landgrave and carry him back 
unharmed, that he may declare to all your measureless power.” 

Then he without further delay moved aside the flaming cover 
over which he was crouching, and putting a brazen trumpet 
into the opening, he blew upon it so loud a blaSt that the whole 
universe seemed to the clerk to become one vaSt blare. After 
what seemed to him an interval of an intolerably long hour, 
the pit all the while belching forth sulphurous flames, the 
Landgrave, rising amid the clouds of sulphurous sparks, put 
forth his head as far as the neck so that the clerk could see 
him and said: “ See, I am here, that miserable Landgrave, 
once your master; Ah! would that I had never been born! ” 
And the clerk made answer: “ I have been sent by your son 
that I may carry him back word of your condition; and if it 
be possible to help you in any way, tell me that too, I beseech 
you. ” And he rejoined: “ My condition you can see for 
yourself: but this I declare to you; that if my sons will reStore 
to certain churches certain property (and here he recounted 
them by name) which I unjuftly seized and left to them to 
inherit, they will confer great benefit upon my soul.” And 
when the clerk said, “ Sir, how shall they believe me? ” he 
went on “ I will give you a token unknown to any save my 
sons and myself.” Then having received the token, and 
having seen the Landgrave plunged again into the pit, he 
was brought back to earth by the demon; and though he had 
escaped with his life, yet he came back so exhausted and so 
deathly pale that he was scarcely recognisable. 

He carried the message of the father to the sons and told 
them the secret sign; but with little profit to the former 
Landgrave, for they refused altogether to make restitution. 
Nevertheless the Landgrave Ludwig said, “ I recognise the 
sign and have no doubt that you did actually see my father, 
and I do not refuse to give you the promised reward.” But 
he replied, “ Sir, let your farm remain in your own hands; 
1 muSt consider only what may benefit my soul ”; and for¬ 
saking the world, he became a monk in the CiStercian Order, 


45 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


glad to endure any kind of temporal suffering if only he 
might escape eternal doom. 

Here you have three examples of how some are converted 
by the fear or sight of the pains of hell. I could tell you more 
about this, but I propose to refer to it again under other heads. 

Novice. —If men could only see such things, surely they 
would not sin with so little thought. 

Mon\. —That is indeed true. Hear now the laft example 
which shows how some are converted, not by the ftings of 
conscience, but by the desire of preserving their innocence, and 
by the longing for their heavenly home. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of the conversion of Godfrey the mon\ of Villers, 
and of the revelations vouchsafed to him. 

In the monastery of S. Panteleon in Cologne, which is of 
the Order of Black Monks, there was a youth who lived a 
blameless life of unsullied purity among his brethren accord¬ 
ing to the discipline of that Order. And this Godfrey, 
kindled with longing for the heavenly life, and finding that he 
could not live that life according to the injunction of his Rule, 
came to us and begged mo$t humbly and earnestly that he 
might be counted worthy to join our convent. Our abbot, fear¬ 
ing that his desire arose more from fickleness than devotion, 
refused, alas! to receive him. Thus repulsed by us, he went 
to Villers and quickly obtained what he sought. How Strict 
he was in all observances, how saintly in life, how fervent in 
his Order, God does not cease to show even to this day through 
the miracles wrought by his relics. 

Once the lord abbot of Villers, who had been our Prior, 
came to visit us, and brought with him this venerable saint, 
and, as I have been told by those who saw him, God gave 
him at mass so great a grace of devotion, that the floods of 
tears from his eyes besprinkled both the altar and his own 
breaSt. And when father Lureke, who was then a novice 

46 



Of Conversion 


and had been a canon of Bonn, asked him how he ought 
to pray, he replied : “ When you are at prayer, do not speak, 
but simply meditate upon the nativity, the passion, the 
Resurretflion of the Saviour, and all else that you know about 
Him.” For he longed to teach others what experience had 
shown to be profitable to himself. He possessed also the 
gift of prophecy, so that he would at times predid to the 
monks coming trials, and would urge them to prepare their 
hearts to endure them. 

I will tell you also what a pious monk of Villers told me 
about him. Once during his week of office in the kitchen, 
he had been washing the feet of the monks, as is cuftomary 
on a Saturday; and after compline, when he had closed the 
church, for he was sacriftan, the Saviour appeared, girt with 
towel, and carrying a basin, and said to Godfrey, “ Sit down 
that I may wash thy feet; for thou, for a long time, haft 
been accustomed to wash mine." And when he refused in 
terror, He constrained him, and kneeling down, He washed 
his feet, and so disappeared. 

On a Tuesday in Holy week, when he was Standing in his 
place in the choir, while the Psalm “ EruStavit cor meum ” 
(Ps. xlv.) was being fervently sung by the convent, lo! the 
glorious Virgin Mary, the mother of God, came down from 
the chancel, and went round the choir as the abbot does, 
blessing the monks, and so went out between the Stalls of 
the abbot and the prior, as though she were going to the choir 
of the lay-brothers. He followed her to see where she went, 
but she was no more to be seen. And immediately, either 
the next day, or the day following, he fell sick: and though 
he was now nearing his end, he persevered in all the work 
of the convent until EaSter, both lacerating his back with 
scourgings, and washing the sacred veSfments with the 
others; but at length overcome by his illness, he was laid 
upon a bed in the infirmary. 

And when the laSI agony was approaching, it happened to 
be the dinner hour of the convent, and his attendant said to 
him, “ I do not like to go to dinner, for I fear you may die 
while I am away.” “ Go in peace," he said, “ for I shall 
see you again before I die.” And while the monk was 


47 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


sitting at dinner, Godfrey opened the door of the refafrory, 
looked at him, and passed on his way toward the church. 
The attendant was abounded, and thought that he had 
miraculously recovered his health. Immediately after the 
departure of Godfrey, the gong sounded to signify his death, 
and the monk remembered the promise the dying man had 
made him. When they Gripped his body for the washing, 
they found his back so bruised with the blows of the rod, 
that all marvelled greatly. Not long ago, by revelation from 
on high, his bones were taken up and laid in the sanctuary, 
where they are preserved as relics. 

To Him be the glory, who thus shows honour to them that 
turn to Him, to whom with the Father and the Holy Ghost, 
be all honour and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 

Many other flories are told of him, but I omit them for the 
sake of brevity. 

Novice .—I confess myself completely satisfied as to the 
causes of conversion ; may 1 now hear something about its 
manner or form ? 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Of the manner anti form of conversion. 

Mon \.—We see some come to conversion with a certain 
vanity and worldly oflentation, and others with a display 
of great humility. 

Novice .—Which of these is better ? 

Monl —No one can doubt that a humble conversion is 
pleasing to God; but indeed we muff judge the display of any 
worldly oflentation according to the intention of the convert. 
Some who desire to be received dress themselves in new clothes, 
that they may not be repulsed as paupers and vagabonds; 
others again, though rich, put on the cloak of poverty, that 
their humility may make them the more worthy of admittance. 
I will give you examples of these. 

48 



Of Conversion 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Of the conversion of the knight Walewan, who 
came to the Order in full armour. 

A knight named Walewan, who desired to enter the con¬ 
vent, came to Hemmenrode arrayed in all his armour and 
riding upon his charger, and thus armed entered the convent: 
and, as our elders who were then present have told me, he 
went, under the guidance of the porter down the middle of 
the choir to the altar of the Blessed Virgin and there, with 
all the convent looking on, he laid down his arms and took 
up the monk’s dress. It seemed to him to be fitting and 
proper that he should lay down the warlike trappings of the 
world there where he proposed to assume the garments of a 
soldier of ChriSt. He is Still living, a good and earnest man, 
who at firft was a novice among the monks, but afterwards, 
in his humility, preferred to become a lay-brother. 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Of the humble conversion of the abbot Philip. 

The conversion of the abbot Philip of Ottirburg was the 
very opposite of this, as was related to me by a canon of Utrecht 
who was present at the time. Born of honourable parentage 
and canon of Cologne Cathedral he heard in Paris a ledlure 
by Rudolph, a canon of the same Cathedral and president of 
the schools, and inspired by Divine grace, he left his Studies 
without the knowledge of his master. Now he was a young 
man rather fastidious and always accustomed to be very well 
dressed; and meeting a poor scholar, he persuaded him to ex¬ 
change clothes with him, and so came to a certain house of our 
Order called Bonnevaux, and humbly begged to be received 
there as a novice. The brethren, seeing him clad in an old 
and worn out cloak, thought that he was some wandering poor 
scholar, and refused to receive him. He felt the delay caused 


49 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


by this repulse to be dangerous, and, when they Still denied 
him entrance, he said at laft: “ If you do not let me in, perhaps 
you will one day be sorry, and then, when you wish to do it, 
it will be no longer possible.” Then at lafl they took him 
in. When his maffer Rudolph heard of his conversion, he 
was much grieved and came with several companions to the 
monastery, but a house builded upon a rock cannot be shaken. 
And because this same Philip humbled himself at his con¬ 
version, the Lord so exalted him, that within a few years he 
was made abbot of that monaflery. 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Of some who at conversion conceal their Holy 
Orders for humility's sak^e. 

So great is the virtue of humility that often for love of it, 
clerks who come to the Order conceal the fa< 5 l that they are 
not laymen, preferring the herding of cattle to the reading of 
books, and holding it better to serve God in humility than to 
be set over others because of their holy orders or literary learn¬ 
ing. 

Now because it often happened in the Order that such men 
after being lay-brothers became monks, and it was considered 
desirable to prevent this for the future, four years ago it was 
laid down in a General Chapter that those who had taken the 
vows under such conditions should remain among the lay- 
brothers. The same year there came one—he was I think a 
deacon—who pretended to be a layman and was admitted as 
a lay-brother. And when the abbot learnt about his orders 
from some one who disclosed them, he brought forward his 
case at the next Chapter. And because it seemed to them as 
sensible men altogether absurd that one who had entered into 
such high orders should be without the mark of the tonsure 
and without the opportunity of exercising the funfhons of his 
orders, they reversed the decision. 


50 



Of Conversion 


Novice. —I am not surprised if some conceal their orders 
at conversion, when we read that in former days that women 
such as the blessed Eugenia and S. Euphrosyne and the blessed 
Marina, through their zeal for conversion, even concealed their 
sex. 

Mon\. —Why should you wonder at this which took place 
in former days, when we know it to have happened quite 
recently and in our own Order ? 

Novice. —I should very much like to hear all about that, 
namely, who she was, and where and how so wonderful a 
conversion took place (how she came to the Order, how she 
lived as a monk, and how she died). 

Mon!{. —I will tell you faithfully about this woman, who 
she was, how she came to the Order, how she lived as a monk, 
and how she died, as the Story was told to me by a monk who 
had been on probation with her as a novice. 


CHAPTER XL. 

Of the marvellous conversion of the blessed Virgin 
Hildegund who feigned to be a man. 

In the town of Neuss, which is five miles from the great city 
of Cologne, there lived a citizen, who had a beautiful and 
beloved daughter named Hildegund. And when his wife 
died, and the child was still very young, he took her with him 
to Jerusalem, to pray at the Holy Sepulchre. On the way 
back the father fell ill, and at Tyre he died. On his deathbed 
he commended his daughter and all that he had to the care of 
his servant. But this man being both unscrupulous and 
greedy of money did not keep faith with his maSter, nor show 
any pity for the dead, but sailed away secretly by night, leaving 
the girl in the house, and abandoning her to misery and want. 

In the morning when she rose and discovered that her faith¬ 
less guardian had left the country, taking with him all her 
father’s property, she was terribly distressed, for she knew not 





The Dialogue on Miracles 


what to do nor whither to turn. Not knowing the language 
of the country, she soon found herself without the means of 
living and was reduced to beggary; kind people however 
enabled her to attend the schools in that city for a year. After 
that time there arrived some pilgrims from Germany, to whom 
she explained the calamity that had befallen her, and prayed 
them with tears to have pity upon her. One of these, of noble 
birth and kind heart, and richer than the reft, comforted her, 
and providing her with all necessaries, took the poor aban¬ 
doned pilgrim upon his ship, and brought her back to her own 
country. 

Now at that time a controversy was on foot in the 
Church of Treves between two ecclesiaftics who had been 
appointed to the bishopric, Wolmar the archdeacon, and 
Rudolph the chief provoft; the former favoured by the lord 
pope Lucius and the latter by the Emperor Frederick. Now 
the Church of Cologne took the side of one of these parties, 
and on this account desired to send a letter to the Pope, who 
was then ftaying in Verona. But the carrier, fearing for his 
life, because the ambushes set by the Emperor made it 
dangerous for anyone to carry letters to the Pope, and thinking 
this girl to be a young man, misled by her tonsure and dress, 
conceived the idea of making her his subftitute. By prayers 
and promises of reward, and by assuring her that a traveller on 
foot would be much less an objeft of suspicion than one who 
went on horseback, he succeeded in persuading her to carry 
the letter enclosed in a ftick. 

When she was near the city of Augsburg, she fall in with 
a thief, who proposed that they should travel together, and 
she, unsuspicious of evil, willingly agreed. When they had 
gone a little way the thief heard a noise as of people pursuing 
them, and pretending that he was compelled to retire, he 
gave the girl his bundle containing the ftolen goods, and hid 
himself in the thicket. To make the ftory short, she was 
arrefted by the pursuers, dragged with the bundle before 
tribunal and sentenced to be hanged. When she found 
that nothing that she could say was of any profit, because 
of the ftolen goods found upon her, she asked for and 
obtained the help of a prieft. Confessing everything to him, 



Of Conversion 


she told him very simply the whole objebt of her journey and 
the wickedness of the thief: and that she might induce him 
to believe her, she showed him the reed containing the letter 
to the Pope, and added, “ If the thief be sought for, he will 
quickly be found.” 

By the advice of the prieSt, men with nets and dogs 
were sent to surround the wood ; the thief was hunted 
and caught, and both were brought before the tribunal. 
When the wretched man was compelled by torture to confess 
his crime, he said, “ I am unjuStly forced to confess to a crime 
which I did not commit; the man who was taken in possession 
of the Stolen goods ought by civil law to be the one con¬ 
demned.” On the other hand the girl said that the bundle 
had been treacherously entrusted to her, and that she wished 
to return it to its owner; whereupon he replied : “ I deny that 
the bundle is mine; the assertion of one person is not 
evidence.” To this the maiden could make no answer; but 
the prieSt intervening on her behalf, roundly asserted that she 
was innocent, and had been deceived by the man’s cunning; 
“ and if, ” he added, “ you do not believe my words, make the 
trial by red hot iron, and it will quickly be shown which is 
innocent and which guilty.” All agreed to the trial, and the 
hand of the thief was found to be burnt, and that of the girl 
to remain uninjured. Then the thief was hanged without 
further delay, and the confessor and deliverer of the maiden 
gladly gave her shelter in his own house. 

And behold, at the instigation of the devil, who grudged 
the maiden her escape, a relation of the thief, furious 
at his dishonoured death, snatched away from the prieSt’s 
house this innocent girl, who had been set free by the 
judgment of God, cut down the guilty man, and hanged 
her in his place. Without delay came the angel of God, 
who supported the innocent vidtim so that she felt not the 
conStridtion of the noose, and refreshed her with the 
wonderful sweet fragrance of his presence. Now while 
she felt no pain, but rather seemed to be enfolded in heavenly 
delight, she heard during that night so entrancing a 
melody, harmonies so varied and full of joy, that no choir 
of voices, no orchestra of Strings could be compared to it in 


53 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

sweetness. “ What is it? ” she asked, and the angel replied 
“ These are the angelic songs amid which the soul of thy sifter 
Agnes is being borne to heaven, and in two years from now 
thou thyself shalt blissfully follow her.” 

Thus the blessed maiden hung for two days, until some 
shepherds who were feeding their flocks in the neighbour¬ 
hood were moved to pity, and agreed to take the body down 
and give it burial. But when the cord was cut, she 
did not fall down heavily as corpses do, but, the angel 
supporting her, came down slowly to the ground and flood 
there upon her feet, so that the shepherds fled in terror at 
such a sight. Then said the angel of the Lord: “ Behold, 
thou art free ; go withersoever thou wilt.” To whom she 
replied: “ My lord, it was my intention to go to Verona.” 
Forthwith she was translated in a moment to the neighbour¬ 
hood of that city, and the angel said, “ Verona is three 
miles diftant from this spot.” Now between Augsburg 
and Verona is a diftance of seven days journey. 

Novice .—There seem to have been repeated on behalf of 
this maiden the ancient miracles of the saints like that of the 
abbot S. Benedict and the prophet Habakkuk, the former of 
whom, when far away, saw the soul of his sifter Scholaftica 
entering the higheft heaven in the form of a dove; while the 
latter, the prophet I mean, was translated in a moment of time 
from Jud.Ta to Babylon (Dan. xiv. 35. Vulgate). 

Mon /{.—That is true, nor is it less wonderful that she at 
so great a diftance should have found grace to hear the 
angelic song with which her sifter was borne to heaven, than 
that the blessed Severin, when in Cologne, should have seen 
the soul of S. Martin ascending to the Lord with similar song. 
And to her, further, two glorious mercies were shown; one, 
that the angel upheld her so that she felt no pains from the 
noose, and the other, that he fortold to her the day of her 
death so long before. 

But to continue; when she had finished successfully 
her undertaking at Verona, on her return she entered 
the diocese of Worms, and, full of gratitude for the Divine 
mercy, she succeeded, through the prayers and help of 
a certain venerable recluse, in being received as a novice by 


54 



Of Conversion 


Dom Theobald the abbot of Schoenau, that delightful place 
which derives its name from the pleasantness of its surround¬ 
ings. The abbot, thinking her a man, bade her sit behind 
him on his horse; and when he heard the gentle feminine 
voice in which she spoke, said to her, “ Brother Joseph, has 
your voice not yet broken?” and she answered, “Sir, 1 do 
not think it will ever break.” Feigning to be a man, she had 
taken S. Joseph’s name, so that as she had to fight againSt 
a two-fold enemy, the flesh and the devil, she might keep 
the more fully in mind him who she knew to have conquered 
these powerful foes, and gain his help the more completely. 

When she entered upon her probation, she put her hand to 
the hardest tasks. She slept among men, with men she ate 
and drank, with men she bared her back to the scourge. And 
though she was a maiden of serious habit, yet that her sex 
might not be discovered, she sometimes made displays of 
levity among her companions on probation; as for instance, 
a monk named Herman, then a boy of 14, told me that once, 
when the mailer of novices was absent, she drew him to her 
cup and said, “ Let us look into this mirror and see which of 
us is the more comely;” and while they were looking at the 
reflection of their faces in the wine, she said again, “ Well, 
Herman, what do you think of my face?” He answered, 
“ I think your chin is rather like the chin of a woman.” 
Whereupon she went away as if in anger. Afterwards both 
were beaten for breaking the rule of silence. 

Novice .—I wonder if she had any temptations while in the 
Order. 

Monl (.—Of her temptations I have heard nothing, but that 
she was the cause of temptation to others is quite clear. 
When the time named by the angel for her death drew near, 
her health began to fail, and when, owing to her extreme 
weakness they carried her to bed, one of the monks, looking 
at her, said aloud to the others Standing by, “ This brother 
of ours is either a woman or a devil, because I have never 
been able to look at her without temptation.” The Strength 
of nature is shown clearly enough by these words spoken in 
jeSt. The prior was summoned to her bedside, and when she 
had confessed to him a few trivial sins, he asked her if she 


55 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


had ever sinned with any woman, and she replied, “ Never, 
sir, have I been guilty with any woman, or any man;” adding 
the laSt words because of her sex. Then she told him in 
order, as I have been telling you, all that had befallen her in 
her life, but saying nothing about her sex. The prior was 
astounded and said, “ My brother, what proof can you give 
me of all this, for it seems to me beyond belief,” and she 
answered, It is two years to-day since the angel of the Lord 
foretold to me the day of my death as I hung upon the gallows; 
/ ^now in whom I have believed. I have \ept the faith, l 
have finished my course ; henceforth there is laid up for me a 
crown of righteousness (2 Tim. iv. 7, 8). If on that day which 
I have foretold, I do not lay aside the use of my tongue for 
about the space of the saying of one mass before my death, 
do not believe me.” And she added, “ When I am dead, 
there will come to light a thing at which you will marvel 
greatly, and for which you will duly give thanks to the mighty 
power of God.” 

This she said, and at set of sun on the Wednesday in 
EaSter week, the 20th of April in the year of the Lord, 
1188, that saintly soul departed from her virgin body to be 
with the Lord. The gong was sounded, and the abbot 
and all the brethren hurried to be present at the prayers 
and rites for the dead, and when the body was carried out and 
stripped for the washing, her sex was made manifest. Then all 
were Stupefied at the Strangeness of the miracle, and it was 
told to the prieSt who was reading the commendatory prayers, 
who, when he heard of her sex, changed the words of the 
text, and substituted the words “ nun ” and “ siSter ” for 
those of “ monk ” and “ brother.” Later, when her record 
was to be written for the books of the monastery, since her 
name was unknown, the entry was made in this fashion, “ On 
the 20th of April died the handmaid of ChriSt in Schoenau.” 

Some days after, since the brethren desired to find out the 
name of that blessed one, they sent into the neighbourhood of 
Cologne, which she had given as the place of her birth, and 
after persistent enquiry for her family, by God’s will an old 
woman was discovered who said that she had been a relation 
of hers, and that her name was Hildegund. 

56 



Of Conversion 


A few years ago, a new chapel was consecrated in 
Schoenau and the people came from various provinces to the 
ceremony, and when the virtues of the blessed Hildegund 
were related to them, they crowded to her tomb, especially 
the matrons, to commend themselves to her prayers, and to 
glorify God for such marvellous things. And let us, brethren, 
give thanks with them to our Saviour, who hath willed these 
things to take place in our time and in our Order to His 
glory and our edification, Who liveth and reigneth with the 
Father and the Holy Spirit for ever and ever. Amen. 

Let all men marvel at the life of him, 

Of her, who lies within this tomb. 

Living, she seemed a man, but death revealed 
Her sex, for death makes plain what life can hide. 

The Book of Life containeth “ Hildegund.” 

She died on the 20th of April. 

Novice. —About this maiden may indeed be understood 
that word of Solomon, “ Who shall find a virtuous woman?” 

Mon\. —So great is the virtue of soul in some women, that 
they are indeed worthy of all praise. 


CHAPTER XLI. 

Of a widow of Cologne who went out from the city 
in the cloak, of a lay-brother. 

There was an honourable matron of Cologne, both rich and 
young, who after the death of her husband, desired to become 
the spouse of Chrift, but was afraid of her friends, who sought 
to prevent her from carrying out her purpose. She consulted 
therefore Dom Charles, the abbot of Villers, and by his 
advice put on the cloak of a lay-brother, and in this dress was 
escorted out of the city by him and became a nun of the Hill 
of S. Walburgis. 


57 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Not/ice .—I am not so much surprised at the conversion of 
widows or married women who have tabled the dregs of the 
world, but I do greatly wonder at the constancy of virgins who 
take the veil in opposition to the will of their parents. 

Mon \.—I will give you some examples of these. 


CHAPTER XLII. 

Of the conversion of Matilda, abbess of Fusinnich. 

The lady Matilda, who is to-day the abbess of Fusinnich, 
was the daughter of very rich parents and was brought up to 
make a worldly marriage. But while she was Still of very 
tender years, she protected daily that she wished to be espoused 
to ChriSt alone, and to become a nun. Finding that she could 
not be turned aside from her purpose by either blandishments 
or threats, her parents dressed her up one day in purple 
garments againSt her will, and she said to her mother, “ Even 
if you were to dress me all in gold, you would not make me 
change my mind.” And when at laSt her parents gave up 
the Struggle in weariness, they wished to place her in the 
aforesaid convent of S. Walburgis, but found it impossible, 
because the Statutory number of siSters was already complete 
there. Wherefore she took the veil in Fusinnich, where she 
made such progress that she was soon chosen as abbess, though 
Still a young woman. A few years later, her siSter Aleidis, 
becoming a widow in early life, followed her and became 
prioress in the same convent. By their example, one of their 
relations, going out of the diocese of Utrecht in man’s clothes 
through fear of her parents, took the veil in the convent of S. 
Thomas, which is a house of our Order in the diocese of 
Treves. But when her siSter tried to do the like, she was 
seized by her parents and given to a husband ; nevertheless, 
I hope that God will not leave unrewarded so fervent a desire 
for conversion. 


58 



Of Conversion 
CHAPTER XLIII. 

Of the conversion of Helswindis, abbess of 
Burscheid. 

I will tell you the ftory of the conversion of the lady 
Helswindis, the abbess of Burscheid, a conversion that was 
worthy of all praise and indeed of wonder. She was and 
Shill is the daughter of Arnold, bailiff of Aix, a rich and 
powerful man, and from an early age so glowed with zeal 
for conversion, that she used frequently to say to her mother, 
“ Mother, let me be a nun.” She was in the habit of going 
with her mother to the Hill of S. Saviour, where at that time 
there was a convent of the sifters of Burscheid. 

One day she entered the house secretly by the kitchen 
window, went up to the dormitory, and putting on a sifter’s 
cowl, went in to the choir with the others. When her 
mother, now wishing to return, learnt of this from the abbess, 
she, thinking it a practical joke, said, “ Please send for my 
servant, for we muft be going home.” Whereupon the 
daughter speaking at the window from within, said, “ I am 
a nun, I cannot come with you.” But the mother, in fear 
of her husband, answered, “ Come with me now, and I will 
ask your father to make you a nun ” ; and so she went 
with her mother. But she, when she got home, failed to 
keep her promise and said nothing to her husband. 

Later it happened one morning that the mother again 
went up the Hill, leaving her daughter ftill asleep. When 
she woke and sought for her mother, and could not 
find her, she guessed that she had gone to the Hill and 
followed alone; arriving, she entered the convent by the same 
window, and again put on the habit, and when her mother 
called her to come away, she replied, “ You shall not deceive 
me again,” and reminded her of the promises made before. 

And the mother went home much frightened, and her father 
in great anger came up with her brothers, broke down the 
doors, took away his daughter in spite of her cries and tears, 
and handed her over to some of his relations to turn her mind 
away from all ideas of conversion. But though she was I 


59 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


think no more than nine years old, she answered all their 
arguments with such wisdom as to aftomsh and confound 
them. What need of more? The bishop of Liege excom¬ 
municated the father and those who had helped to carry her 
away; she was restored to the convent, and after a few years 
was chosen abbess. 

Let this be enough about conversion. Many wonders of 
this kind has Chri£t wrought in His elect to the glory of His 
Name, to Whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit be 
honour and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 



BOOK II 


OF CONTRITION 


CHAPTER I. 

Of contrition, what it is, and why it is so called, 
what are its different finds, and what is its fruit. 

In the fir£t book it was Stated that conversion sometimes 
goes before contrition and sometimes follows it, and this was 
proved by examples. Now indeed I propose to speak about 
this contrition, according as the Lord shall deign to give me 
grace, and I shall confirm with illustrations all that I shall 
say of it. 

And this you ought to know, that contriuon is a great and 
perfect good, since it is the gift of God, “ coming down from 
above from the Father of light, with whom there is no variable¬ 
ness neither shadow of turning ” (Jam. i. 17). And some¬ 
times there are even additions to its perfectness, for while 
the leaSt contrition wipes out the greatest sin, a perfect con¬ 
trition takes away both sin and penalty. 

Novice. —That I may be able the better to understand the 
power of contrition, will you explain to me firSt what it really 
is, why it is so called, whether it is beStowed as a free gift, 
or by a man’s merit, how many kinds there are of it, and 
what it works in the sinner ? 

Monf. —Contrition is heartfelt repentance, i.e., grief for 
sin, arising sometimes from the fear of hell, sometimes from 
the desire of heaven. 

Novice.—Is there any difference between repentance and 
penance ? 

61 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —Yes; repentance is the inward pain that takes away 
guilt; penance is tne outward satisfaction that wipes out the 
penalty due to the sin. 

Novice .—What is the difference between guilt and penalty? 

Mon \.—Guilt is the sin itself, the penalty is the reward of 
guilt. If the sin be mortal, the reward due is eternal punish¬ 
ment, which upon heartfelt repentance, God commutes into 
a temporal punishment, and this, if the contrition has been 
imperfeCl, is cancelled by external satisfaction, which is called 
penance, so called because the word contains the meaning of 
punishment. 

Novice .—Whence comes its name ? 

Mon \.—Contrition is so called because it is complete 
trituration or bruising; it is made up of con, which means 
complete, and tritio, because the heart ought to be bruised 
with grief for all sin. If a man grieve for one sin and not for 
another, it muft by no means be allowed that such a man has 
contrition of the heart. The sinner cannot divide his guilt 
any more than God divides His pardon; for He forgives the 
whole debt at once. 

Novice .—If we muft be contrite for all sins at once, what 
does the Psalmin mean when he says, “ Every night wash 
I my bed and water my couch with my tears ” (Ps. vi. 6). 
The “ bed,” as you have often explained, is the conscience, 
and “ every night ” is every sin. If he bemoans them one by 
one that so they may be washed away one by one, how can he 
show contrition for all at once ? 

Mon \.—There ought to be one general contrition for all 
sins, to wipe out the guilt; and then, if it be possible, we 
should weep each day with Thais, to wash away the penalty. 

Novice .—From whence does contrition arise? Is it a free 
gift, or is it the result of man’s desert ? 

MonJ {.—I will tell you what is the opinion of our fore¬ 
fathers about this. They say that there are four concurrent 
agents in the junification of a sinner : the infusion of grace, 
the emotion that rises from grace and freewill, contrition, and 
the remission of sins. These four they call the four junifica¬ 
tions. The firn we can never deserve, because it is benowed 
on us as a free gift, nor do we deserve the second, because 

62 



Of Contrition 


it is an emotion immediately aroused by grace and freewill. 
Although we have no desert in that emotion, nevertheless by 
it we do deserve the third justification, that is, contrition. 
This justification does come by our effort, and by it we can 
win the fourth, namely, remission of sins. That is the limit 
of desert in contrition. And you muSl bear in mind that 
one justification is said to precede another, not in time, but in 
its nature. 

Novice .—I should like you to explain this more fully under 
some figure. 

Mon \—Consider this then. Rain is beStowed upon the 
earth, and from both elements the plants grow, and then 
from the plant fruit is produced. The rain is grace, the earth 
is freewill; from rain and earth comes the plant, and from 
grace and freewill springs emotion, as we have said. The 
plant bears fruit, when this emotion moves freewill to give 
satisfadlion. The soil is barren without the rain, and free¬ 
will can bear no fruit without grace; neither can the rain work 
without the soil. 

Novice .—What are the different kinds of contrition? 

Mon \.—There are two, namely, the inward and the out¬ 
ward ; the inward in betterness of heart, the outward in dis¬ 
cipline of body. 

Novice .-—Now I am wondering, what is the mighty power 
of contrition ? 

Mon \.—So great is its power, that without it, baptism 
bears no fruit, confession is barren, reparation is useless, in 
adults who have added adlual to original sin. Here then you 
underfland that contrition is the first baptism to the unbap¬ 
tised, and to the baptised who have fallen into sin, it is their 
second baptism. By this baptism of contrition were baptised 
the thief on the cross, and S. Mary Magdalene at the Saviour’s 
feet. 

That contrition blotteth out sin, however great that sin 
may be, you shall learn by the following illustration. 


63 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter II. 

Of the apottate mon\, who being mortally 
wounded in fighting, in the contrition of his con¬ 
fession, chose for himself 2,000 years in Purgatory. 

A certain youth of noble birth took the vows in our Order. 
One of his relations was a certain bishop who loved him 
dearly, who, when he heard of his conversion, came to the 
monastery and tried his utmoSt to persuade him to return to 
the world, but failed. When his year of probation was 
fulfilled he was made monk, and passing through the different 
Steps, was not long afterwards ordained prieSt. 

Under the temptation of the devil, who drove the firSt man 
out of Paradise, he forgot his vows, forgot his priesthood, and 
worSt of all, forgot his Maker, and deserted from the Order ; 
and because he was ashamed to return to his parents, he joined 
a band of robbers or freebooters. So utterly was he given over 
to a reprobate mind, that he who before had surpassed the 
good in goodness, now outdid the wicked in wickedness. 

It happened that at the siege of a certain caStle he was 
wounded with a javelin very grievously and drew near to 
death. His comrades carried him away to a place of safety, 
and sent for doctors to attend him. And since there was no 
hope of escaping temporal death, they exhorted him to con¬ 
fession, that he might by that means escape the death eternal. 
But he answered them, “ What profit can confession be to 
me, who have wrought so many and great evils, who have 
committed such enormous crimes? ” And they replied, 
“ The mercy of God is greater than your iniquity can be.” 

At laSt with difficulty overcome by their persistence, he 
said, “ Call the prieSt.” When at their summons he came 
and sat by the side of the sick man, the merciful God who 
is able to take away the heart of Stone and give a heart of 
flesh, gave him such heartfelt contrition, that often he began 
his confession, and as often his voice failed him for his sobs 
and tears. At length he gathered courage and broke out 
into these words: “ Sir, my sins are more in number than the 
sands of the sea; I was a CiStercian monk and was ordained 
prieSt in the Order, which at the call of my sins, I deserted; 

64 



Of Contrition 


nor was it enough for me to apoitatise, but I joined a band of 
freebooters, and surpassed them all in cruelty, for while they 
took men’s goods, 1 robbed them of life itself. My eye had 
pity on none. If sometimes they, touched with human pity, 
were willing to spare, I, driven by the wickedness of my 
heart, spared none who came into my power. The wives 
and daughters of many I violated, and vafl numbers of 
homes I committed to the flames ” ; and went on to 
enumerate many other enormities almoft beyond the limits of 
human wickedness. 

The priest, after hearing such a confession, was terrified 
by the enormity of his sins, and being a dull and Stolid 
man, stolidly said, “ Your iniquity is too great for you 
ever to hope for pardon.” He replied, “ Sir, I am an 
educated man ; often have 1 both heard and read that 
no human sin can be compared with the infinity of 
the Divine compassion. I beg you therefore by the promise 
of Divine mercy that you will deign to assign me some 
penance.” And the prieft, “ I know not what penance to 
assign you, for you are a loft soul.” The monk replied, “ Sir, 
since I am unworthy to receive a penance from you, I will 
assign one to myself, and I choose 2,000 years in purgatory, in 
the hope that after them I may find mercy in the sight of 
God.” Since truly he had been caught between the upper and 
the nether millstones, the fear of hell and the hope of glory. 

Novice .—Why did he choose a term so long drawn out ? 

Mon^.—Because he thought upon the greatness of his sins, 
and reckoned any penalty measurable by time as a mere 
nothing in comparison with an eternity of woe. He said 
again to the prieft, “ Though you deny me the medicine of 
penance, I entreat you not to refuse me the viaticum of Holy 
Communion.” Stolidly the prieft replied, “ If I have not 
dared to assign you a penance, how can I presume to give you 
the Body and Blood of Chrift?” And when he would accede 
to neither of these petitions, the dying man made at laff this 
ftrange requeff: “ I wish you to write an account of my case, 

and send it to a relation of mine, Bishop-,” mentioning 

his name, “ and I truft that he will pray for me.” The prieft 
promised, and the monk died, and his soul was carried to 

65 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

purgatory. The prieSt then went to the bishop, taking with 
him the papers concerning the deceased. And when he had 
read them, he wept molt bitterly and said to the prieSt: 
“ Never did I love a man so dearly; I grieved when he took 
the vows, I grieved when he broke them, I grieve for his 
death. I loved him alive, and I shall Still love him. Because he 
can Still be helped, and because he died in contrition, he shall 
not lack the prayers of the Church.” And calling together 
the prelates of his diocese, to wit, the deans, the priors, the 
incumbents of churches, and all to whom a care of souls had 
been committed, and making the same request to all the nuns 
in the convents, he besought them all with much humility 
and urgency, speaking to those present and writing to the 
absent, that they would for that year use the special prayers 
which he provided for them for the soul of the dead man, 
both at mass and at all other offices. He himself, besides 
the alms and special prayers that he offered for him, daily 
offered the saving vidtim for the absolution of his friend’s 
soul. Moreover, if by chance it happened through any over¬ 
whelming necessity or through illness that he himself was 
prevented from carrying out this duty, he found others to 
take his place. 

When the year was over, at the close of the la£t mass, 
the dead man appeared to the bishop,_ pale, worn and 
emaciated, and clad in sad-coloured garment, plainly de¬ 
claring his condition by appearance and dress. And when 
the bishop asked him how he fared and whence he came, he 
replied, “ I am in pains and from pains I come; but I give 
thanks to your charity, because this year of your alms and 
prayers and of the goodness shown to me by your flock has 
delivered me from 1,000 years of the pains I had to endure in 
purgatory. Moreover, if you will Still give me similar help 
for another year, I shall be altogether set free.” On hearing 
this, the bishop rejoiced and gave thanks to God, and sending 
letters to the churches and monasteries telling them all the 
vision, he obtained from them that they would continue the 
appointed prayers for that year also. The bishop himself 
repeated his urgency of the preceding year, with all the greater 
fervency as now he was the surer of his kinsman’s deliverance. 

66 



Of Contrition 


At the close of the second year, when the bishop was celebrat¬ 
ing the la£t mass in his behalf, he appeared again, but now 
clad in a snow-white robe, and with a countenance of tranquil 
serenity, and related how all his desires were fulfilled and said, 
“ May the Almighty God reward you, moft holy father, for 
that loving care by which I have been delivered from all the 
pains of purgatory, and now enter into the joy of my Lord. 
For behold, these two years have been allowed to {land for 
me in place of the whole 2,000 years.” And he saw him no 
more. 

Novice. —This is indeed a joyful ending. But there are 
two things that especially excite my awe and wonder : the 
firfl is the power of contrition, by which he who deserved 
damnation became worthy of eternal life, and the other the 
power of prayer which so swiftly delivered him from purga¬ 
torial pain. 

Mon\. —Although there is of a truth great might in each, 
yet the greater is seen in contrition. For the prayers and alms 
of the Church cannot gain the essential blessing. They were 
able indeed to lessen the pains of the dead, but they had no 
power to increase his ultimate happiness. 

Novice. —I wonder too that an apoSlate, dead and buried 
in secular dress, should have appeared in the garb of a monk. 

Mon\. —Contrition turned the apoftate into the monk, and 
the secular dress into the gown. 

Novice. —I pray you show me this by a {till more evident 
example. 

Mon\. —Here is one ready to hand. 


CHAPTER III. 

Also of an apoBate monp. who was rendered con¬ 
trite by a miracle of S. Bernard, died outside the 
Order, and was buried in the dress of a clerk, and 
when his body was exhumed, it was found tonsured 
and clad in the gown of a mon\. 

The blessed Bernard, as was related to me by a certain 
monk, who was also a prieft, had a monk in whom God has. 

67 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


shown very plainly an answer to this question of yours about 
the power of contrition. Many Stories have been told, though 
none written down, about him by the older men amongSt us, 
some of whom are Still alive. This monk, by the persuasion 
of the evil one, laid aside his gown and undertook the govern¬ 
ment of a certain parish, for he was a prieSt, the same enemy 
aiding him. And since sin is often punished by more sin, 
the deserter from the Order fell into tne further vice of luSt. 
He took a concubine to live with him, as is the cuStom of 
many, by whom also he begat children. After many years 
it happened, in the mercy of God, who willeth that none 
should perish, that the holy abbot passed through the town 
where this monk was living, and turned aside to his 
house for hospitality. He, well knowing the abbot, received 
him with as much reverence as if he had been his own 
father, and miniStered to his wants with great devotion, 
and provided abundantly not only for him but also for 
his retinue and horses; and yet he was not recognised 
by the abbot. 

In the morning after matins had been said, the saint 
was ready to continue his journey, but was unable to 
speak with the prieSt, because he had risen earlier and 
gone to the church; so he said to the prieSt’s son, “ Go 
and take the message to your mailer.” Now the boy had 
been dumb from his birth, and he obeyed the command be¬ 
cause he felt within him the authority of him who bade him 
go, ran to his father, and in his own words expressed exatftly 
the words of the holy father, saying, “ This and this is the 
message the abbot sends you.” The father, hearing his son 
speak for the firSt time, urged him to repeat the same words 
over and over again, and then diligently enquired what the 
abbot had done to him: “ He did nothing to me, but only 
said, 4 Go and give this message to your maSter.’ ” The 
prieSt was pricked to the heart by so evident a miracle, and, 
hastening to the saint, threw himself before his feet weeping. 
“ My lord and father,” he said, 44 1 was your monk so and so, 
and I left your monastery at such a time. I therefore beseech 
your fatherliness that I may be allowed to return with you to 
the monastery, because God hath touched my heart by your 

68 



Of Contrition 


coming.” To whom the saint replied, “ Wait here for me, 
and when I have finished my business, I will quickly return 
and will take you with me.” He, fearing death as he had 
never feared it before, answered, “ Sir, I fear that I may die 
while you are gone.” But the abbot said, “ Hold this for 
certain, that if you were to die in this contrition and with this 
purpose, you would be found a monk in the sight of God.” 

He went and returned, and heard that the pneft had recently 
died and had been buried. Whereupon he ordered that the 
tomb should be opened; and when they asked him why, he 
replied, “ I wish to see whether it is a monk or clerk that lies 
there.” “ It was a clerk,” they said, “ whom we buried in 
secular dress." The earth was thrown aside, and he appeared 
to all, not in the secular dress in which he was buried, but in 
the tonsure and habit of a monk; and all glorified God, who 
takes the will for the deed. See how you have here a clear 
proof that in the sight of God true contrition restores all that 
has been lofl by the sin of apostasy. Yet know this also, 
that all the years of apostasy were barren years. 

Novice .—Well do I recognise, from all you have said, the 
power of contrition, but flill more do I marvel at the ineffable 
mercy of the Saviour. That man was an apostate, was a 
fornicator, and, what I count far worse, did not scruple to 
handle daily with his polluted hands the mo!t sacred myfteries 
of Chrift. 

Mon^.—You are rightly troubled by this. Where the 
contempt is greater, the guilt is heavier. If he who has 
approached unworthily, i.e., being in some mortal sin, is 
worthy of a punishment like that due to those who crucified 
the Christ (i Cor. xi. 27), what are we to think of him, who, 
abiding in many and continual sins, not only eats without 
eating, but even prepares and handles that great Sacrament 
with guilty hands? Hear what father Ctesarius, one of our 
monks and formerly abbot of Prum, told me. 


69 



The Dialogue on Miracles 
chapter IV. 

Of a prieft who said, if sins are sins, never can my 
soul be saved. 

Once, he said, when I was talking with a prieft about sins, 
he, not as confessing but as making light of them, replied, “ If 
sins are, as men say, really sins and so grievous, never can 
my soul be saved.” “ Why?” he asked. “ Because this last 
night I have slept with the lawful wife of so and so, and today 
I have celebrated three masses ; and further, in that very 
night there was a double feftival, that of the Sunday and of 
S. Laurence the martyr. 

Novice.- —These are terrible things that I hear; and I marvel 
that God can endure patiently such sins as againft Himself. 

Mon\. —If God were to slay sinners in the aft: of sinning, 
there would be very few monks alive today. Will you then 
hear about a prieft, a very terrible case of this kind, in which 
you may ftand awe ftruck before the unspeakable patience of 
God? 

Novice. —Very much do I desire it, for indeed the Divine 
patience is very necessary for us all. 


CHAPTER V. 

Of a libidinous prieft, and how on Chriftmas Day a 
dove three times too\ away, and, after his contri¬ 
tion, reftored the Sacrament of the altar. 

Dom Conrad, formerly bishop of Halberftadt, told us iaft 
year of a remarkable occurrence, which he said had taken 
place a few years ago in France. There was a prieft who 
on Chriftmas Eve had to make a short country walk in going 
from one village to another to say matins, and celebrate 
masses according to cuftom. As he drew near to the second 
village, he being quite alone, met by the agency of the devil. 


70 



Of Contrition 


a woman also quite alone; and thus alone, with no eye to see 
them, they sinned. Though he had incurred such heinous 
guilt, his accusing conscience did not save him from a yet 
greater ad of contempt, but fearing rather the scorn of men 
than the vengeance of God, he entered the church, and after 
saying matins, he duly began, as usual, the mass which is 
said at cockcrow. When the Transubffantiation took place, 
when, that is, the bread became the Body and the wine the 
Blood of Chriff, a snow-white dove descended upon the altar, 
under the eyes of the prieft, and after drinking the whole 
contents of the chalice, took the hoft in its beak and flew 
away. Seeing this the pried was terrified, though not yet 
enough for his soul’s health, and was no little perplexed as to 
what he should do; yet on account of the congregation present, 
he finished the canon as to words and actions, though the fruit 
of the canon was not there. After mass came lauds, and after 
lauds, the morning mass, which he took, because there was 
no substitute available; and again, at the same moment as 
before, came the dove which again took away the Sacrament 
and withdrew. 

Novice .—Why did he not drive it away, after the example 
of the patriarch Abraham (Gen. xv. 11) ? 

Mon \.—It was not such a dove as could be driven away 
or interfered with. I think rather it was of the nature of that 
dove which John saw on the Jordan, hovering over the head 
of Jesus (Matt. iii. 16). 

Novice .—What are we to think of that dove? Was it the 
Holy Spirit ? 

Moti \.—No indeed; but it was the sign of the presence 
of the Holy Spirit. For when its work was accomplished, 
for which it had been created by the Holy Spirit, it was 
resolved into its former elements. The Divine Nature 
cannot be seen with the eyes of the body, nor heard with the 
ears, nor touched with the hands; yet it may be sometimes 
made visible in some subject creature, such as the fire or the 
dove. 

Novice —What did the priefl do then ? 

Mon \.—Even then he did not cease from his presumption 
but came to the altar for the third time to celebrate the mid-day. 

7 ' 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


mass, and for the third time the Holy Child, who was born 
as on that day, by the means of that same dove, took away the 
Sacrament of His Body and Blood. And now at laft, 
unworthy as he was, the grace of God restored the unhappy 
man to his senses and pierced his heart with sorrow for his 
sin. He came to an abbot of our Order and made a full 
confession; with many tears he laid before him the whole 
matter from beginning to end, telling him how, to his utter 
shame, he had been three times repulsed from the divine 
Sacrament. 

Now the abbot was a wise and prudent man, and 
believed him to be truly contrite; but wishing to make 
trial of the depth of his contrition, he did not at once lay any 
penance upon him, but ordered him to go immediately and 
celebrate mass. He, obeying his confessor as if he were God, 
went trembling and weeping to the altar to celebrate, and 
the merciful Lord, who abhorreth nothing that He hath 
made and win\eth at the sins of men for contritions sake 
(Wisd. xi. 24, 25. Vulg.) made glad his heart in wonderful 
guise. For before the time of reception, the dove returned, 
bringing in its beak the three Hofts which it had taken one by 
one, and laid them upon the corporal, and from its throat 
poured into the chalice the liquor of the three masses, and so 
departed. When he saw| this, the prieft was filled with 
unspeakable joy and gave thanks to God, “ who only doeth 
great wonders ” (Ps. cxxxvi. 4). Coming back to the abbot, 
he recounted to him this Divine consolation, and humbly 
implored that he would receive him into his monastery. The 
abbot replied : “ I will not take you now, but I wish you to 
cross the sea, and as penance for your sins minister to the 
sick in the hospitals for three years. If then you come back, 
you shall suffer no repulse from me.” For he wished that, 
by the toil of so great a journey and by the perils of the sea, 
he should pay the penalty of his sin, and by his works of 
mercy win the sick and poor to pray for him. He carried 
out the abbot’s injunction and after three years came back, 
and took the gown of a monk in the monastery. 

Not/ice .—It was a happy sin, to be the occasion of so great 
a sinner gaining so great a blessing. 

7 2 



Of Contrition 


Monl{. —A mortal sin may be altogether vile in itself, yet 
sometimes it becomes good, i.e. profitable to some by the oppor¬ 
tunity it brings. Sometimes through fear of one sin a man 
is delivered from many, yes indeed from all sins; for while 
he fears the imminent penalty, he confesses and repents, and 
by his repentance is delivered from all. 

Novice. —I readily grant what you say ; because if I see 
one foul spot on my gown, the occasion of this leads me to 
wash the whole gown. 

Mon\. —This however mult be remembered, that some¬ 
times God forgives mortal sins without forgiving some that 
are venial ; but He does not forgive a venial sin without 
also forgiving any that is mortal. 

Novice. —I do not underhand how this can be. 

Monl —There are some venial sins, such as the two great 
affection of parents for their children, for which they cannot 
grieve, nor can they put them away, and therefore they are 
not forgiven in this present life. But whatever may be done 
with regard to such venial sins, let a prudent man be on his 
guard againSl mortal sins, because while he can fall without 
the aid of any, he cannot rise again of his own Strength. Who 
can tell if God will deign to Stretch out to the lapsed a help¬ 
ing hand, i.e.. His illuminating grace? Some fall, as Judas, 
and never rise again; others, like Peter, and rise again Stronger 
than before. 

I will tell you moSt true examples of this, which ought to 
be the more acceptable to you, as they are the more recent. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Of the impenitent murderer, Hildebrand, and of 
his punishment after death. 

Brother Bernard, our fellow monk, told me about a rich 
man’s bailiff, who fell very grieviously, and after his fall 
refused to rise again; and perhaps the reason that he refused 
was that he was unable. In truth he was unable, because 


73 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

there was no gift of contrition in his heart. The man’s name 
was Hildebrand, and he lived in a village called Holchoim 
in the diocese of Utrecht. One day he went into a wood 
with a fellow citizen, whom, at the instigation of the devil, 
he killed when they were quite alone. There had been 
quarrels between them formerly, but at that time they seemed 
to be perfectly good friends. When Hildebrand came back 
to the town, he was asked by the friends of the murdered man 
where he was, and he answered that he did not know. They 
waited for him that day and next, and when he did not come 
(for indeed he could not), they suspe&ed Hildebrand because 
of their former quarrels, and brought him before the judge 
for trial on the charge of murder. He denied the charge 
timidly, but his very look betrayed him, and when pressed he 
could no longer deny, but confessed that he had killed the 
man. Sentence was forthwith passed upon him, and he was 
condemned to be broken on the wheel. 

When he was being led out to death, a prieSt of the same 
commune named Bertolf, with another prieSt called John, who 
was the blood-brother of the aforesaid brother Bernard, bailiff 
of the village, drew him aside, as having once been an honeSt 
man, and diligently urged him to confession and contrition. 
But because the unhappy man was unable to rise again of 
himself, and felt no hand helping him, he replied miserably: 
“ What use can such things be to me : I am a man already 
doomed.” And the prieSt said to him, I adjure you by the 
Father, Son and Holy GhoSt that within the next 30 days 
you appear to me without endangering my life and tell me 
of your State.” He answered, “ If I am allowed, I will 
willingly do this.” And so he suffered the penalty of the 
wheel, and passed from torment of the body to the torment 
of eternal damnation. 

One night within the appointed time, Bertolf was asleep in 
bed, when there arose so great a crashing of the trees around 
his house, with such violent guSts of wind, that the very 
animals were terrified, and could scarcely be kept within 
their Stalls by their halters. Bertolf waking from sleep turned 
his eyes to the entrance of the house, and lo! the doors, as if 
driven in by the force of the wind, were opened, and he saw 


74 



Of Contrition 


Hildebrand enveloped in glowing fire and swiftly approach¬ 
ing him. Terrified beyond measure, he crossed himself and 
bade him in the Name of God to come no further. “ See, 
here I am, according to my promise,” he said ; and when the 
other asked him how he fared, he answered, “ I am eternally 
damned, being appointed to everlasting burnings chiefly 
because of my despair. If I had followed your advice and 
shown penitence, I should have escaped eternal punishment 
at the price of temporal death; for God does not punish twice 
for the same offence. But know this, that if when alive 1 
had not been adjured not to injure you when dead, I should 
have come here to your hurt. I counsel you to amend your 
life, that after death you may not suffer a punishment like 
mine.” For this Bertolf was a prieSl only in name, not in 
fatff. For up till then he had been in the habit of celebrating 
mass without having received the order of prieSlhood. And 
when he wished to ask more of the unhappy soul, he replied : 
“ I may not Slay here longer, for there are many demons out¬ 
side waiting for my return. And having said this, he was 
Straightway driven forward and out with a mighty shrieking 
and wailing, and so departed from him. Later, as he passed 
the Slable door the horses, as before showed terror and affright. 

Bertolf, then, terrified by so dreadful a vision, forsook the 
world, and took the Religious dress in a house of our Order, 
called Harthausen. The abbot of that monastery, having 
discovered that he was a man of good education and con¬ 
siderable eloquence, sought long to persuade Pope Innocent to 
allow him to be ordained, but without success. Two years 
ago, as the prior of KloSler-Camp told me, he was afflidfed by 
the disease, called anthrax, in the hand which he had without 
warrant put out to touch the ark of God. The hand thus 
affedled was amputated, as the only remedy to prevent the 
disease from spreading, but this was of no avail, indeed it was 
only an additional torment, and rather hastened his death. I 
hope and think that it was God’s will to punish him in this 
life, that He might spare him hereafter. 

You see how that Steward fell, and never rose again. If 
he had not fallen, assuredly he would have escaped eternal 
loss. 


75 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —By this man’s punishment it is made clear how 
perilous it is to remain in mortal sin. 

Mon\. —You muil know that it is not only perilous but 
ruinous. It is perilous, because as acute fever is near to death, 
so is a mortal sin near to hell; it is ruinous, because whatever 
good the sinner may do in that Slate is wholly loft and gains 
nothing of eternal reward. 

Novice. —I should like to ask further, whether his fall 
ensued from the guilt of the sinner, or on the opportunity 
offered by the withdrawal of grace? 

MonJ{. —Never is grace withdrawn from any man, except 
as a consequence of guilt; otherwise the sin would juftly be 
flung back upon God, the author of grace. 

Novice. —Thank you. 

Mon\. —Would you like to hear now about another 
unhappy wretch, who with his own eyes saw the penalty due 
to his guilt made ready for him in hell, and yet when he came 
back from the Inferno, thought scorn of the need of penitence. 

Novice .—Yes, indeed. 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of Gottschal\ the usurer, who saw a seat of fire pre¬ 
pared for him in hell. 

Mon\. —When Mafter John, Scholafticus of Xanten, and 
Mafter Oliver, Scholafticus of Cologne were preaching the 
Crusade againft the Saracens in the diocese of Utrecht, as I 
was told by the aforesaid brother Bernard, who at that time 
was Oliver’s colleague and assistant preacher, there was a 
certain peasant named, if I remember rightly, Gottschalk, who 
made a business of usury. This man took the cross with 
the reft, not from devotion, as was afterwards clear, but 
because he was driven to it by the urgent pressure of those 
around him. When the Pope’s dispensators, by Innocent’s 
order, were collecting the money for the redemption of their 
vow from those who were too old or too infirm or too poor 
to go, this same usurer, falsely protefting that he was a poor 

76 



Of Contrition 


man, gave to one of the dispensators a sum of about five 
marks, and by such a pretence cheated the pnefl. His 
neighbours certified afterwards that he could have given forty 
marks, without disinheriting his children, as he pretended. 
But God, who is not mocked, brought his deceit to a terrible 
ending. The wretch used to sit in the taverns, provoking 
God, and taunting His pilgrims in this fashion You fools," 
he would say, “ are going to cross the sea, and wafte your 
subfiance, and expose your lives to all kinds of dangers, while 
I, for the five marks with which I redeemed my vow, shall 
flay at home with my wife and children, and get as good a 
reward as you.” But the God of juflice, that He might 
show openly how favourably He looked upon the toil and 
expenditure of the pilgrims, and how evil in His sight were 
the craft and blasphemy of their reviler, delivered the wretched 
man to Satan that he might learn not to blaspheme. 

One night when he was sleeping by his wife, he heard in his 
own mill, which adjoined his house, a noise like that of the 
wheel turning. He called to his servant and asked him, “Who 
has set the mill going? Go and see who is there.” The lad 
went out and returned for he was too much overwhelmed 
with terror to go in. “ Who is there ? ” cried his mafler. 
“ Such awful horror came over me at the door,” he replied, 
“ that I was compelled to turn back.” And he: “ Even 
if the devil himself be there, I will go and see.” And throw¬ 
ing his cloak over his shoulders, for he was undressed, he 
went to the mill, opened the door and looked in, and saw a 
dreadful sight. Standing there were two coal-black horses, 
and by them a mis-shapen attendant of the same coal-black 
hue, who cried to the peasant: “ Quick! mount this horse; 
it has been brought for you. ” Pale and trembling he 
shuddered to hear this word of command. And seeing him 
unwilling to obey, the devil cried again: “ Why do you 
hesitate? throw oft that cloak and come.” For on the cloak 
was sewn the crusader’s cross, which he had taken. What 
need of more ? Feeling in his despairing heart the power of 
the devil’s summons, and no longer able to resift, he threw 
off the cloak, entered the mill and mounted the horse, which 
was itself a devil. The attendant demon mounted the other, 


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and with incredible swiftness both were borne from one abode 
of pain to another. There the wretched man saw his father 
and mother in moft miserable plight, and many others, of 
whose death he was quite unaware. There too he saw an 
honoured knight, Elias of Rheineck, burgrave of the city of 
Horft, who had died recently; he was mounted upon a heifer, 
mad with rage, with his face toward her tail; and while she 
rushed hither and thither, she gored his back with continual 
blows of her horns. When the usurer approached him and 
asked: “Sir, why do you endure so great pains?’’ he 
answered : “ This heifer I took without pity from a widow 
woman, and so without pity I muft endure these pains from 
her horns.” There too was shown him a burning fiery chair, 
no place for peaceful reft, but a home of pain, unending pain; 
and he heard a voice saying: “You will be taken back now 
to your house, but after three days you will put off your body, 
and your soul will return to your own place, and seated in 
that chair, you will receive your reward.” 

Then he was taken back by the demon, and put down in 
the mill, and left there half dead. He was found by his wife 
and servants and carried to his bed; and when they asked 
him where he had been, he replied: “ I was carried off to 
the place of hell, and such and such things did I see, and my 
guide showed me there a seat which he said was prepared for 
me, and that after three days I should receive my due reward 
therein.” The prieft was summoned in hafte, and the wife 
begged him to calm his terrors, to deliver him from despair 
and to exhort him to the way of salvation. But when the 
prieft urged him to contrition for his sins, and to make an 
honeft confession, assuring him that none need despair of the 
mercy of God, he replied, “ What use to say that? I cannot 
repent, I believe it useless to confess. What is appointed for 
me muft be fulfilled. My place is prepared for me ; in three 
days I muft go thither, and there receive the due reward of 
my deeds.” 

And so without contrition, without confession, without 
viaticum or undtion, on the third day he died, and in hell 
was buried. At firft the prieft refused to give the Church’s 
burial, but the wife bribed him, and he was laid in the 

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Of Contrition 


cemetery. For this the prieSt was afterwards accused before 
the Synod of Utrecht, and was duly punished. It is scarce 
three years since all this happened. 

See how this man, like the other fell and never rose again. 

Novice .—There seems to me some significance in the fact 
that the knight received his punishment upon the maddened 
heifer, and the usurer in a chair which is significant of reft 
and Stability. 

Mon \.—God punishes the sinner according to the nature 
and manner of his sin. The knight, who took the heifer by 
violence, expiates his crime upon the heifer. This is in 
accordance with the nature of the sin; the heifer runs through 
meadow after meadow, in his search for pafture, and by her 
continual grazing keeps short the growing grass. The heifer, 
in her restlessness, and in the way she continually feeds down 
the grass, is a type of the nobles and rulers of our time, who 
feed down the houses and farms of their subjects by demand¬ 
ing hospitality; and, by their perpetual exactions, do not suffer 
their substance to grow again. In their punishment they 
shall be like two robbers, and, as they now harry others, so 
shall they themselves be harried with the knight of whom 
the Story tells. Let this be enough about the manner. But 
the usurer, because he gives out his money to usury, while he 
himself sits quietly at home, received his chair of fire in hell. 
And rightly is that chair a chair of fire, because as the fire 
consumes the Stubble, so does usury devour the substance of 
the poor. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

How grievous is the sin of usury. 

Novice .—Usury seems to me a very grievous sin, and one 
moSt difficult to cure. 

Mon \.—You are right. Every other sin has its periods 
of intermission; usury never reSts from sin. Though its 
maSter be asleep, it never sleeps, but always grows and climbs. 


79 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


It is difficult to heal, for God does not forgive the guilt of 
theft unless the thing Stolen be restored. The fornicator, the 
adulterer, the murderer, the perjurer, the blasphemer, all 
receive forgiveness from God, as soon as they show contrition 
for their sin; but the usurer, although he may be sorry for his 
sin, does not obtain pardon, so long as he keeps the fruit of 
the usury when he might reStore it. 

Novice .—What if he have already spent the money thus 
gained, or given it to his children, keeping nothing but his 
own lawful possessions? 

Mon ){.—These he is bound to sell that he may restore that 
which was gained unlawfully. 

Novice .—There are so many usurers to-day, because the 
bishops, who are set over the church as watchmen, give 
communion to them, and give them Christian burial. 

Monf {.—If they only concealed the vices of their flocks and 
did not imitate them, it would be bearable. Some bishops 
to-day make as grievous exactions from those committed to 
their charge, as if they were mere secular rulers. These are 
“ evil, very evil, pigs ” (Jer. xxiv. 3). It is much to be feared 
that such bishops are preparing for themselves thrones by the 
side of the usurer’s chair in hell, for usury and violent 
exa&ions are nothing else than robbery and plunder. 

Novice .—How can the limbs be healthy when the head 
is so diseased? 

Mon \.—This seat reminds me of a parable once told by a 
certain bishop. 


CHAPTER IX. 

Of Leopold, bishop of Worms. 

In Worms a few years ago there was a bishop named 
Leopold, a bishop only in name, in all his affions a tyrant. 
This man had no goodness in him, no piety, no care or 
reverence for God; and one day his brother, a great nobleman, 

80 



Of Contrition 


said to him: “ Lord Bishop, you scandalise us of the laity 
very much by the example you give us. Before you became 
a bishop, you had some reverence for God; now you care 
absolutely nothing for Him.” He answered, “ Brother, 
there were once two neighbours, one of whom sinned by the 
example of the other. Both died and went to hell. Being 
in torments, one said to the other: “ Curses on you! it was 
by your example that I was tempted to sin, and so came to 
deserve this place.” And the other replied: “ My good 
neighbour, if you covet my place, hand me over yours, and I 
will give you mine.” And so I say to you, brother; if when 
we get to hell, my place there shall seem to you more honour¬ 
able than your own, climb up into it, and I will take yours.” 
He answered, “ This is but a poor consolation.” 

This Leopold was of so diabolical a character, that at the 
time of the quarrel between the two kings, Otto and Philip, 
when he had seized upon the bishopric of Mainz by the 
authority of Philip, and had taken part in many battles, he 
spared neither churches nor cemeteries. Once when his 
soldiers said to him, “ Sir, it is not lawful for us to rob ceme¬ 
teries,” he replied, “ It is impossible to rob a cemetery unless 
you carry oft the bones of the dead.” Now when he had 
been deprived of his office and benefice by Pope Innocent, on 
account of his invasion of the said bishopric, he collected an 
army, relying upon Philip’s help, and set out for Italy to make 
war upon the Pope himself. In more than one town, horrible 
to tell, he excommunicated the Pope with bell, book and 
candle; but afterwards, through hatred of the emperor Otto, 
he was restored both to his office and his benefice. This 
man fell often and deeply, as has been told; whether he rose 
again through contrition at the end, I do not know. This 
I know, that the embassy, on which he was employed when he 
died, was a hotbed of Strife. 

Novice .—Often have I seen men fall, and rise again 
through penitence but that some rise again Stronger than 
before, I should like you to show me by examples. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 
chapter x. 

Of a scholar of Paris, who could not ma\e his con¬ 
fession orally through sheer excess of penitence, and 
whose sins, when written out, were deleted by the 
Hand of God. 

Mon\. —It is now twenty two years, more or less, since 
I came to the Order in the year of our Lord 1199; and it was 
in that same year that there happened in Paris the events that 
I am about to relate, which were told me by men both 
religious and learned, such as abbots and scholaftici 1 . There 
was a certain ftudent there, who, at the suggestion of our 
mortal enemy, had committed such sins, that from very shame 
he could not confess to any mortal man. Yet while he 
thought upon the torments of hell prepared for the wicked, 
and the inconceivable joys of eternal life awaiting the 
righteous, and while he trembled every day left the judgment 
of God should fall upon him, he was so tormented by the 
ftings of conscience, that he began visibly to wafte away in 
body. 

What need of more? At laft in God’s mercy, his shame 
was overcome by that serviceable fear, which is able to 
draw charity after it, as the cobbler’s briftle draws the thread. 
He went to S. Viftor, asked for the Prior, and signified that 
he had come to make his confession. He, always ready for 
that duty, as are all the brethren of that monaftery, came at 
once, took his seat in the cuftomary place, and, after a pre¬ 
liminary exhortation, waited in silence for the youth to begin. 
Then a wonderful thing happened. The merciful Lord, 
Whose nature is goodness, Whose will is power, and Whose 
work is compassion, in that same hour poured into his heart 
so deep a flood of contrition that, as often as he began his 
confession, so often did his voice fail entirely, broken by sobs 
and sighs; tears were in his eyes, sighs in his breaft, sobs in 
his throat. 

When the Prior saw this, he said to the ftudent: 
“Go and write out your sins upon a sheet of paper, and bring 
it to me.’* Gladly he took the advice, withdrew, wrote, and 
1 See II, vii, n. 


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Of Contrition 


the next day came back. When he tried again to make his 
confession, he failed as before; and when he found it impos¬ 
sible to speak, he held out the paper to the Prior. The Prior 
read it, and was aghafl at what he read, and he said to the 
youth, “ I cannot of myself advise you; may I show this to 
the abbot? ” and the other assented. The Prior went to the 
abbot, and gave him the paper to read, laying the whole case 
before him in due order. What happened then let sinners 
hear and take comfort, let even the desperate take new life 
and hope. As soon as the abbot unfolded the paper to read, 
he found its whole contents expunged. And the abbot said 
to the Prior, “What am I to read in this paper? there is 
nothing written on it.” When the Prior heard this, he 
looked at the paper with the abbot, and said, “ I can assure 
your Fatherliness that this youth wrote out an account of his 
sins upon this paper, and that I read it myself before I gave 
it to you. But it is clear, surely, that the moil merciful God 
has given heed to his intense contrition, and in His juStice 
has blotted out his sin as already sufficiently punished; since 
indeed the deleting of all the writing signifies the deleting 
of all the sin.” Then they sent for the Student and showed 
him the paper, telling him that God had blotted out all his 
sin. When he had looked at it, and recognised by certain 
marks that it was indeed the same, his heart was as much 
dilated with excess of joy, as it had been contrasted by excess 
of grief. They laid no penance upon him, but advised him 
how he might show gratitude to God for His great goodness, 
and live carefully for the reft of his life. Behold how that 
youth, as is plain to see, though far from pcrfeft before his 
great sin, fell indeed, but rose again perfected. 

Novice .—In what way was he perfected ? 

Mon \.—In charity. 

Novice .—What then is the perfection of charity? 

Mon \.—When the mind is unconscious of any sin either 
mortal or venial, and is free not only from guilt but also from 
punishment. And I think that, if this clerk had died in such 
a State, he would have experienced no purgatorial pains, 
because pcrfeCt charity consumes both lead and Stubble, both 
guilt and punishment. This is the opinion of many; but 

»3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


others say that even the mo$t perfedt carry with them both 
hay and Stubble. 

Novice. —Why were his sins not blotted out before they 
were shown to the Prior? 

Mon\. —That confession might not appear superfluous, 
for there is no forgiveness without the desire for confession. 
Even the confession itself, by the shame it entails, forms an 
important factor in satisfaction. For the guilt was put away 
at the firSt Stab of contrition, and then as contrition grows 
deeper, and confession is added, the punishment also is blotted 
out. 

Novice. —I marvel at the contrition of this man no less 
than at that of Mary, to whom the Voice of the Saviour said, 
while she wept so bitterly in silence, Her sins which were 
many are forgiven her because she loved much (Luke vii. 47). 

Mon\. —As you have spoken of Mary Magdalene, I will 
tell you of the wonderful contrition of a libidinous woman, 
in whom in our times ChriSl showed the miracles of His 
grace, no less than of old in Mary. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of a woman who had a child by her own son, and 
how Pope Innocent judged her to be absolved from 
her sin because of her perfedl contrition. 

In different places and from various persons have I heard 
what I am now to tell you. Four years ago, in the year, 1 if 
I remember rightly, that Pope Innocent died, a certain woman, 
inflamed with the fire of luSt, approached her own son, and 
by him conceived and brought forth another son. Terror 
Stricken at so unspeakable an adt of incelt, and fearing every 
moment to be handed over to Satan, or to perish by sudden 
death, she began, in God’s mercy, to be sore troubled about 
making amends. Having firSt taken counsel with her prieSt, 
she went to Rome taking the babe with her, so I think it was 
1 Innocent III died Julj i6, 1216. 

84 



Of Contrition 


told me, and with much persistence gained an interview with 
the lord Pope Innocent; and before him, in the hearing of all 
who were gathered there, she made her confession with such 
tears and laments as to Strike terror to the hearts of all. She 
carried her infant in her arms as the proof of her crime. 

The lord Pope, seeing in the woman so great contrition 
and perceiving that she was truly penitent, was moved with 
compassion for her; but like a wise physician, who wished to 
cure the patient both quickly and completely, he desired to 
make further trial of the healing power of her contrition. 
Wherefore he ordered her to show herself there in the presence 
of all, in the same garb in which she had gone to her son when 
she sinned. She, thinking temporal shame as nothing in com¬ 
parison with shame eternal, immediately went out, laid aside 
her clothes, and returned clad only in a single linen garment, 
and showed by such obedience how ready and eager she was 
to make amends. And that moft wise and learned man, 
realising that such obedience such shamefacedness, such 
penitence, could outweigh even the fouleft sin, said to 
her in the presence of all: “ Thy sin is forgiven thee; go in 
peace,” and laid no further penalty upon her. 

One of the Cardinals, who was present, murmured with 
the Pharisee, againff the Pope and disapproved his judgment, 
saying that so brief a penitence was not enough for so heinous 
a fault and the Pope answered him, “ If I have dealt wrongly 
with this woman, and if her penitence is insufficient in God’s 
sight, then let the devil have power to enter my body and tor¬ 
ment me here in the presence of you all ; but if on the other 
hand, you are wrong in blaming me, let the same thing happen 
to you.” Forthwith the devil began to torment the Cardinal, 
and by his torment God showed openly that the penance of 
the woman was sufficient and acceptable. The Cardinal, 
healed at length by the prayers of all, learnt never again to 
carp at the bounty of the Divine mercy. See then how that 
woman, like the clerk of the former chapter, fell sick to 
death, and rose again, made every whit whole. 

Novice .—Marvellous is the loving-kindness of God, that 
so brief a contrition should blot out so terrible a sin, for which 
a penitence of fifteen years would scarce seem enough. 

85 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —It can blot out sins much greater even than this. 

Novice. —What can they be? 

Mon\. —Idolatry, heresy, denial of the Creator; for these 
come from diabolical possession, while carnal sins arise from 
human weakness. Wherefore to soften the Divine wrath it 
is said in the commendatory prayer for the departed, 
“ Though he has sinned against Thee, yet he has not denied 
Thee.” 

Novice. —I beg that you will make this clear by an example, 
if you know of any who has fallen by denying God, and has 
been able to rise again by contrition. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Of the contrition of a young noble, who denied 
ChriSl, and was restored to grace by the intercession 
of the Blessed Virgin. 

Mon\. —Within the laSt five years there lived near Floreffe, 
a PremonStratensian monastery in the diocese of Liege, a 
young noble, whose father died and left him much wealth, 
for he was a great and powerful Baron. The youth was 
knighted and, in his feverish search after popularity, very 
soon was brought down from great wealth to excessive 
poverty. For to win the applause of others, he gave himself 
up altogether to tourneys and pageants, spending vaSt sums 
of money upon a< 5 tors and buffoons. His annual revenues 
were not enough for these extravagances, and he was com¬ 
pelled to sell his father’s estates. 

Now there was living in the neighbourhood a knight, both 
rich and honourable, although a courtier ; and it was to him 
that the youth disposed of his lands, freeholds and fiefs, selling 
some and mortgaging others. And when he had now 
reached the point of having no more property either to sell 
or to pledge, he determined to leave the country, for he felt 
it would be more tolerable to beg among Strangers than to 
endure the shame of poverty among his own kinsfolk and 
acquaintances. 


86 



Of Contrition 


Now he had a Steward, an evil fellow, Christian by 
name, but no Christian in life, for he was wholly given 
over to the service of the devil. This man, seeing his 
maSter depressed, and knowing full well the cause of his 
trouble, said to him, “ Sir, would you like to be rich 
again?” and he answered, “Of course I would like to 
be rich, provided the riches came with God’s blessing.” 
“ Have no fear for that,” said the Steward, “ only come with 
me, and all will be well. ” Forthwith he went after that 
scoundrel, as Eve after the voice of the serpent, or a bird 
after the snare of the fowler, ready to fall quickly into the 
clutches of the devil. So that night he led him through a 
wood to a place of marsh and bog, where he began to hold 
converse with some one unseen. And the youth asked with 
whom he was speaking, and that vile Steward answered: 
“ Hush, take no notice of any I may speak with.” Then 
he began to speak again, and when the youth repeated his 
question, he replied, “ With the devil.” At these words, 
overwhelming horror swept over him, for who could be 
unmoved at hearing such a reply in such a place and at such 
an hour! The Steward went on, speaking thus to the devil: 
“ My lord, I have brought here this noble, my maSter, to gain 
your favour, entreating your majeSty that by your aid he may 
be restored to his former wealth and honours.” The devil 
replied: “ If he will be my faithful and devoted servant, I 
will give him great riches, and to these I will add such glory 
and honour as his forefathers never knew.” Answered the 
Steward, “ Gladly will he be your faithful and dutiful slave 
for such a reward.” And the devil went on : “ To obtain 
these things from me, he muSt begin now by renouncing the 
MoSt High.” And when the youth heard this and refused 
to do it, that man of perdition said to him, “ Why should 
you be afraid to utter this one little word ? Come, renounce.” 
At laSt persuaded by the Steward, the wretched youth denied 
his Creator with his lips, made the legal sign of repudiation 
with his hand, and did homage to the devil. 

When this crime was accomplished, the devil added : “The 
business is Still incomplete ; he muSt also renounce the Mother 
of the HigheSt, for it is she who does us the greatest harm. 

87 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Men are often rejected by the justice of the Son, and yet 
reftored to mercy by the absurd pitifulness of His Mother.” 
Again the serpent hissed into the ear of the youth to obey his 
mailer in this also, and to deny the Mother as he had denied 
the Son. To this the other, though terribly frightened, and 
troubled beyond measure, replied: “ That will I never do.” 
“ Why,” said he, “ you have done the greater thing, now do 
the less ; for the Creator is greater than the creature.” But 
he, “ Never will I deny her, not even if I have to beg my 
bread from door to door for the reSt of my life.” And so 
with the transaction still incomplete, having gained no sort of 
reward, they returned, both laden with an awful weight of 
sin, the Steward by persuading, the youth by consenting. 

On their way back, they came to a church, which the bell¬ 
ringer had left only half closed. At once the youth leapt 
down from his horse, gave it to the Steward, and said, “ Wait 
here till I come back.” And entering the dark church, for 
the dawn was not yet, he threw himself down before the altar, 
and began from the very bottom of his heart to call upon the 
Mother of Mercy. Now there was upon the altar an image 
of the Virgin Mother herself, holding the Infant Jesus in her 
arms. And behold by the merits of that moSt glorious Star 
of the Sea, the true Dayspring began to arise in the heart of 
our youth. So deep contrition did the Lord deign to give 
him, for the sake of His mother, whom he had refused to 
deny, that he “ roared for the very disquietness of his heart,” 
and in his grief filled the whole church with lamentable cries. 

At the same hour, the aforesaid knight, who was in 
possession of all his property, led, as he believed, by 
the Divine will, passed by this church; and, seeing it 
open, entered, being quite alone; for he thought that 
the Divine Myfleries were being celebrated, because he 
heard voices from within. When he saw the youth who was 
well known to him, weeping before the altar, he supposed 
that he was bemoaning his misfortunes, and withdrew quietly 
behind a pillar, to see what might happen further. Now 
while the penitent did not dare to call upon or even name that 
Majefty which he had denied, but only in tearful accents to 
repeat the name of His moit pitiful Mother, there came 

88 



Of Contrition 


through the mouth of her image, in the hearing of both, the 
voice of that blessed and only advocate of Chriflian folk 
speaking thus to her Son: “ My sweeteff Son, have pity on 
this man.” But the Child turned away His face, and made 
no answer to His Mother. And when again she besought 
Him, saying that the man had been led affray, He turned His 
back on His Mother and said: “ This man has renounced 
me; what can I do for him? ” Upon this, the image arose, 
laid her Son upon the altar, and proflrated herself upon her 
face before His feet, saying “ I beseech Thee, my Son, to 
pardon him this sin for my sake.” Immediately the Child 
raised up His Mother and replied : “ Never, my Mother, have 
1 been able to refuse you anything; behold, for your sake, I 
forgive him all.” Before this, He had forgiven the guilt for 
the sake of his contrition, and now, on His Mother’s inter¬ 
cession, He forgave the penalty as well. 

Novice .—Why did He seem so hard to His so beloved 
Mother ? 

Monl (.—That He might show the youth how deeply he 
had sinned againSt Him; and by the heartfelt grief the sin 
might be the more fully punished. Now he arose and left 
the church, grieving Still for his sin, but joyful in his forgive¬ 
ness. The knight too came out after him unobserved, and 
asked him, as though he knew nothing of the matter, why his 
eyes were so wet and swollen; and he said it was due to the 
wind. Then said the other: “ Sir, I know the reason of your 
sadness; now I have an only daughter, if you are willing to 
marry her, I will give you back all your lands as her dowry, 
and will further make you the heir of all my wealth. “ To 
this the youth made joyful response : “ I shall indeed be happy, 
if you will deign to do this. ” The knight went home and 
told everything to his wife; she gave her consent, and the 
marriage took place; and all his property was restored to the 
youth under the name of dowry. He is Still alive, I think, 
and his parents-in-law too, but after their death, all their 
wealth will pass to him. 

Novice .—Truly this youth owes unending gratitude to the 
Blessed Virgin, since by her he obtained forgiveness of his sin, 
and in addition the comfort of temporal riches. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 

Mon \.—You say well, because it was at her intercession 
that the Lord poured contrition into his heart, by which he 
gained forgiveness of his sin. And even the penalty of his 
sin, was remitted at her intercession, as the youth himself 
heard. See then how this man fell moil grievously, but rose 
again even more quickly than those we were speaking of 
before. In the sinister gloom of night he fell, and his rising 
came before the dawn. 

Novice .—What do you think about those who find con¬ 
trition only at the laft ? 

Mon \.—About this you shall hear, not my opinion, but 
that of the blessed AuguStine ; and this is what he says : 


CHAPTER XIII. 

What Augufline saith about late repentance. 

If a man, when brought to the laSt extremity, desires to be 
given penance, and is given it, and is forthwith reconciled to 
God, and then departs from life ; I confess to you, that though 
we do not refuse him what he asks, yet we do not presume 
to assert that he has made a good ending. If he died saved, 
I do not know. We can give penance, but assurance of 
salvation we cannot give. Do I say then that he will be 
damned? I do not, but neither do I say that he will be saved. 
Do you wish then to be set free from all doubt? Then do 
your penance while yet in good health. If you do this, I tell 
you that you are safe, because you have done your penance 
when you might have sinned. If you only desire to do 
penance when you can no longer sin, it is not you that forsake 
your sins, but your sins that have forsaken you. Further the 
realities are two, and only two; either you are pardoned or 
you are not pardoned. Which of these realities is yours, I 
know not. Wherefore hold faft to that which is sure, and 
have no dealings with that which is uncertain. 


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Of Contrition 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Of the lay-brother Henry who had put off the con¬ 
fession of a sin until he came to die. 

I will tell you what happened in our own monastery a few 
years ago. There was a lay-brother, named Henry, an old 
man, and the senior lay-brother, who had committed a certain 
sin, which he had never confessed to abbot, prior, or any one 
else. Yet he had always been accustomed to make his con¬ 
fession frequently, and was held by us all to be a holy and 
very religious man. When he was now at the point of death, 
he confessed this sin to Dom Daniel, who was then our prior; 
and as he afterwards told us, for our warning, it was of so 
grievous a nature, that if he had remained silent, he muil 
have been damned. 

Novice .-—What do you think about this man’s salvation? 

Monl {.—I think the same as I read in S. Auguftine: “ If 
his contrition was in charity, he is saved; but if not, he is 
damned.” He whose repentance is late, muff not only fear, 
but also love, his Judge. 

Novice .—Was there any value then in his watching, or 
faffing, in his labours and obedience or in any other of his 
works of righteousness, so long as he was ftill in mortal sin ? 

Mon \.—None whatever; lot all works without charity are 
dead, nor can they ever come to life. Unhappy then are they 
who mortify themselves daily in God’s service, and gain no 
reward in life eternal for all their toils. Many are ignorant 
of these things, presuming too much upon a death-bed repent¬ 
ance, unaware that a penitence put off till then is, as we have 
been saying, so terribly uncertain. But I will give you 
examples of two men, one of whom made a genuine, and the 
other an insincere repentance. 


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chapter xv. 

Of a canon of Paris, who having partaken of the 
Sacraments at his death, appeared after death to a 
friend, and told him that he was damned, because 
his contrition had been insincere. 

A little while ago there died in Paris a canon of the church 
of Notre Dame, a man who had many emoluments and had 
lived delicately all his life. And because from luxuries, 
especially from such as pamper the appetite, luff is born and 
fed, and is increased by daily Stimulants, this youth Stained 
deeply his robe of flesh, and provoked the wrath of God 
againSt him by that and other sins. At laSt, being Struck down 
by sickness, in the fear of death, he made his confession, 
bewailed his sins, promised amendment of life, received the 
viaticum, was anointed, and died. 

His body was buried with great pomp of wordly 
splendour, as that of a man both rich and well-born ; 
and on the day of his funeral the weather was so calm 
and serene that it seemed to be paying homage to his 
remain* Men said to one another : “ God has shown many 
favours to this man; he has enjoyed everything that a Christian 
man can desire. He was fortified with the divine Sacraments, 
the sky was placid at his death, with great splendour he has 
been buried.” But “ man looketh upon the outward appear¬ 
ance, but the Lord looketh upon the heart ” (i Sam. xvi. 7). 
After a few days he appeared to an intimate friend and told 
him that he was damned; and when the other ftupefied and 
affrighted, calling to mind his penitence and confession, and 
the Holy Communion and anointing that followed, the dead 
man answered : “ One thing I lacked, for want of which none 
of those which you have enumerated could profit me at all.” 
“ What is that?” he asked. “ True contrition. For although 
by the advice of my confessor I vowed to God that I would be 
continent and do all else that belonged to salvation, yet my 
conscience told me that if I grew well, I should not be able to 
keep my promises; and because my heart inclined rather to the 
breaking than the keeping of my vows, I deserved no forgive¬ 
ness. God requires a fixed purpose from the sinner.” See 

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Of Contrition 


how the repentance of this man was both late and insincere; 
and yet it would not have been too late, if only it had been 
sincere. 

Novice. —Never again shall I be surprised that a late penit¬ 
ence is so rarely sincere. 

Mon\. —There are many in the world, whom I have known 
well, who, at a time of sickness, when they were in fear of 
death, have made their submission within the hands of the 
abbot, and when they recovered, have broken their vow. LaSl 
year at Bonn, a town in the diocese of Cologne, a certain vaga¬ 
bond clerk, Nicholas by name, whom men call the “ arch 
poet,” fell grievously sick, and being in fear of death, by his 
own entreaties and the recommendations of the canons of the 
church of Bonn, obtained from our abbot admission to the 
Order. We all thought that he had assumed the cowl with 
great contrition, yet no sooner was the danger paff than he 
quickly put it off, and cafling it from him with a mocking 
jeft, fled away. 

Novice. —There are many sinners, who are truly grieved, 
because they cannot feel contrition. What are we to think 
about such grief? 

Mon\. —It cannot be meritorious, because it is without love; 
but nevertheless it does sometimes prepare the way to love. 
Love and the will to sin cannot dwell together. But you 
shall learn both by word and example what S. Bernard thought 
about such grief. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

Of a f night of Reims, who died contrite, after receiv¬ 
ing the Holy Sacrament in the presence of S. 
Bernard. 

Brother Godfrey, our fellow monk, formerly scholafticus of 
S. Andrew in Cologne, whom also I mentioned in the third 


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chapter of my firtt book, told me this which happened in the 
city of Reims. At the time, he said, when I was a&ing as 
matter and inttruttor of Dom Philip, afterwards archbishop 
of Cologne, it happened that a certain knight fell ill of a mortal 
sickness. By the inttigation of the devil, this knight, if I 
remember rightly, was keeping his uncle’s daughter as a con¬ 
cubine; and he was so deeply attached to her that no exhorta¬ 
tion, nor threat of excommunication, nor any natural feeling 
of shame could induce him to be parted from her. 

Now when the fear of death came upon them, he sent for 
the priett, and with many tears made an honett confession of 
all his sins. When the priett warned him that he mutt put 
away both this so unlawful connexion, and the person herself, 
who was his cousin, he simply answered: “ Sir, I cannot do 
it,” and the priett said, “ If you die in such a determination, 
you will lose your eternal happiness, and be consigned to 
eternal torment. When the knight persitted in his obttinacy, 
the priett withdrew, taking with him the Body of the Lord, 
which he had brought for his Communion. 

In the providence of God, S. Bernard, the abbot of 
Clairvaux, met the priett in the ttreet ; and when he 
asked him why he had not communicated the sick man, 
and underttood the reason, which was indeed a matter 
of common knowledge, he said to the priett, “ Let us go back 
together to the sick room.” They returned, and when the 
saint had exhorted the knight, now at the point of death, of all 
things concerning his soul’s health, and the latter had promised 
obedience in all except that one thing only, latt of all he said : 
“ Do you now grieve that you have not the will to part from 
her?” He answered: ‘‘Sir, I grieve mott deeply that I 
cannot grieve for this.” When he heard this, the abbot told 
the priett to give him at once the Body of the Lord. Behold a 
marvel. As soon as the Saviour entered, salvation came to that 
house. From that moment his will was so completely changed 
that now he hated her more than he had unlawfully loved, so 
that he said to the saint with many tears : “ Thanks be to God, 
who hath set me free, for now I would more willingly look 
upon a toad than upon that woman.” And so in a good con¬ 
fession and in perrett contrition he departed to be with the 


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Of Contrition 


Novice .—I should like to know i£ he won that contrition by 
the grief you spoke of, or by the partaking of the Body of the 
Lord? 

Mon \.-—Chrift in His Sacrament comes in judgment, unless 
His grace has gone before. For I think that by the prayer of 
the saint, the grace of Chrift illuminated the abyss of his heart, 
that the saint might not be convifted of presumption, and that 
the punishment of the dying man might not increase to his 
damnation. See how the contrition, or penitence, of this man 
was late, yea, almoft at the verge of death, and yet it was 
genuine by the testimony of the holy abbot, through whose 
merits he is believed to have gained it. 

Novice .—Surely the presence of the juft is of vital import¬ 
ance to the dying. 

Mon \.—This is shown by S. Gregory in one of his 
Homilies, where he tells of a certain perverse youth, who kept 
crying out that he was given over to be devoured by a dragon, 
and how the prayers of those around put the dragon to flight, 
and gained contrition for the sick man. Hear also about a 
man of the World, whose final contrition was so genuine, yea, 
so perfeft, that by it he won not only forgiveness of his sins, 
but also the glory of miracles. 


CHAPTER XVII. 

Of the contrition of Philip, Count of Namur. 

Three years ago died Philip, Count of Namur, a man both 
noble and powerful, being the son of Baldwin, Count of 
Flanders. Before his death the Lord gave him in his sickness 
such deep contrition, as has not been seen in any other of our 
day. Often would he make his confession to four abbots of 
our Order at the same time, accusing himself so heavily and 
weeping so bitterly as to draw tears from all. Nor did this 
satisfy him, but he would caft a halter about his neck and beg 
his confessors to drag him into the Street, saying, “ Since I have 
lived like a dog, it is right that I should die like a dog." He 


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had handed over to the King of France the daughters of his 
brother Count Baldwin, who had been made King of Greece; 
some said that he had taken money for them; whether that be 
true or not, this deed was an especial grief to him. He caused 
himself to be carried into the pooreSt hovel in Namur, and 
there in great poverty of spirit he departed to be with the Lord. 
God’s mercy, willing to reward such great contridon, deigned 
to glorify him with miracles, as if he had been a beloved con¬ 
fessor. He was buried in the church of S. Alban the Martyr, 
where he had instituted a college of canons, appointing their 
Stipends from his own lawful revenues, while he was Still in 
good health ; and though dead, he shines brightly to this day 
with so many signs and wonders, that even from far countries 
sick folk come to get health at his tomb, and even dig out the 
earth near his burial place and carry it away with them as a 
thing both blessed and blessing. 

Novice. —Was it by his former life or by his final contrition 
that he won so much favour ? 

Mon\. —I think indeed that he had charity before his ill¬ 
ness, because he was ever kindly and humble-minded; but 
almoft all that knew both his former life and his final con¬ 
trition ascribe the glory of miracles to his lafl great contrition 
rather than to his former conversation. 

Novice. —I see clearly that the tears of contrition avail 
much in the sight of God. 

Mon\. —Of what value they are in His eyes, I will show 
you by the next example. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

Of the contrite prayer of the Convent of Hcmmcn- 
rode, which, at the time of the Schism, changed the 
heart of the Emperor Frederic\. 

At the time of the Papal schism, which took place between 
the popes Alexander and Calixtus under the Emperor 

0 



Of Contrition 


Frederick, who was himself the author and defender of it, all 
monasteries throughout the whole of the Roman Empire were 
compelled by Imperial ordinance to swear loyalty and obedi¬ 
ence to Calixtus, whom Frederick had made pope; and all who 
refused were bidden to go into exile. When letters to this 
effetff were read in the convent of Hemmenrode, and the 
brethren replied unanimously that they would by no means 
secede from the unity of the Church, they were ordered to 
depart at once from the Roman Empire. When those holy 
men, eSleeming the Emperor's threats as nothing by the side 
of the fear of God, had packed up their veflments and other 
property, and had arranged to be received into different 
monasteries within the realm of France, one of them said to 
the venerable prieSl David who was a monk among them, 
“ Father, do you not know that we are all leaving this place?” 
For he was so intent upon heavenly things as to be altogether 
ignorant of what was going on around him. When he 
showed himself full of aSlonishment and asked the reason of 
this, the other explained to him the whole affair. But that 
blessed man, full of faith in God, said to them : “ Take heart, 
my brothers, for never will the Lord forsake them that hope 
in Him. Only sing boldly and earnestly the Antiphon which 
comes before the Magnificat to-night, and the Lord will com¬ 
fort you.” Now it was the Sunday before Advent, and the 
Antiphon which comes before the Magnificat is: “ O Thou, 
who guideSt the Stars in their courses, from whom no depths 
of the abyss are hid, who holdeSt the earth in the hollow of 
thine hand, hear us when we call upon Thee.” Moreover he, 
that man of God, went Straightway into the church, and pour¬ 
ing out his soul in prayer, besought the divine mercy. The 
brethren, agreeing moSt heartily with his advice, sang that 
Antiphon all the more fervently, because of the urgency 
with which their difficulties pressed upon them as they 
sang, and incited them to greater zeal. The merciful 
Lord, moved by the tears of His servants, changed the 
heart of the Emperor, and letters were sent in haSIe bid¬ 
ding them to remain and pray for the Empire. From 
this you may gather how mightily the heart of God is 
touched by the tears of contrition. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —Can anyone by merits or prayers obtain such 
tears for another? 

Mon\. —That some by their merits can obtain this 
grace from God for others, you have an example above 
in the third chapter, where the apoftate monk was justified 
through the tears of contrition by the merits of his Father and 
gueft, S. Bernard. You have also another example in the 
sixteenth chapter, where the knight of Reims, making his 
communion in the presence of the same saint, by his merits 
gained enlightenment through the gift of contrition, even 
when he was in very great sin. And yet for neither of these 
is S. Bernard reported to have prayed. Also that some have 
availed to win for others tears of contrition with which to 
water their sins, I will show you by more than one example. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of a nun who obtained for a mon\ the grace of 
tears at matins three times in the wee\. 

It was only this year and you yourself were present when 
Dom Walter, the abbot of Villers, told us of a monk who had 
been sent by his abbot to a certain convent of nuns of our 
Order, how he noticed one of them, who seemed to him to 
be living very near to God, and how he besought her to pray 
for him. She replied : “ What is it that you wish me to seek 
for you from God?” The monk said: “ I want you to pray 
for me that at the solemn matins, three times a week, that 
is, on the Monday, Thursday and Saturday, when the 
services are longer, I may have a special grace of tears and 
devotion.” And she promised faithfully that she would 
obtain this for him. The monk returned to his abbey, and 
taking his place in the choir at matins, awaited the promised 
grace; and indeed he received it abundantly from the Lord 
through the prayers of that holy nun on those three nights in 
every week. She, undemanding by the Spirit that her 

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Of Contrition 


prayer had been heard, sent a message to the monk by a 
certain clerk who was her friend, and showed him that she 
knew he had already received the promised grace. Now it 
happened that the abbot of that house told the Story to this 
clerk for his edification, and the latter smiled saying that he 
knew it all, even better than the abbot, since he had heard it 
from the lips of the nun herself. Abbot Walter told us 
another similar Slory, and the clerk was there to hear it, 
saying with his saintly pleasantness, “ You are not yet saints, 
and I am going to tell you something about my own progress 
in saintliness,” and thus began. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Also of a woman who obtained from the Lord the 
grace of tears for Dom Walter the Abbot of Villers. 

When I heard that the aforesaid monk had received the 
grace of tears through the nun, I asked my abbot, for I had 
then only recently become a monk, that I might be allowed 
to visit these nuns, and forthwith he gave me permission. 
And so I came for hospitality to the house of a certain honour¬ 
able matron of Brabant; and when she heard the objetft of 
my visit, she said jeffingly: “ Why do you want to see those 
fanatics ? If you like, I will introduce you to a good woman, 
who obtains from God everything that she asks for.” I 
replied: “ Very much do I desire to see such a woman.” 
And immediately at her word, a woman came from her room, 
and approached me, and began to talk with me. At her 
coming, I felt the presence of grace, and begged her to pray 
for me. When she said, “ What do you wish me to ask for 
you?” I replied, “ That I may be able to weep for my sins.” 
And she : “Are you not a monk ? He who cannot weep for 
his sins is no true monk.” And when I urged her to obtain 
this grace for me, she answered, “ Go in peace, you shall have 
it abundantly.” The next night, when I was praying at my 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


bedside and thinking upon my sins, and yet not expecting the 
gift promised by that woman, I began to weep so abundantly 
and beyond my wont, continuing nearly till midnight, that at 
length, fearing to injure my brain, I succeeded with the utmoSt 
difficulty in refraining from more tears. When she sent me 
a message that she had on that particular night obtained for 
me the grace of tears, I went back to see her, and asked, “ Tell 
me in charity, how you obtained for me that grace.” And 
she answered in these words : “ At firSt indeed I found the 
Lord hard to move, but I said to Him, ‘ Lord, I will not let 
Thee go, except Thou grant this monk the grace of tears;’ 
and forthwith He granted it to you.” 

He added also an example of the same kind. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

Also of a mon\ who obtained this same grace for 
the said Walter. 

At another time, he said, I asked one of our monks, a man 
of great reputation, to pray to God for me; and when he 
offered me a choice of what I wished to get from God, I, wish¬ 
ing to make trial of the value of his words, answered, “ I want 
you to obtain for me after mass the grace of tears that I may 
bewail my sins.” And he promised me with great confidence 
that I should have my request Next day, when, after mass 
was over, I was remaining a while alone in prayer before one 
of the altars, there came to me such an abundance of tears that 
I was greatly astonished. When later the monk saw me (he 
was Still a youth in years, but in character very mature) he 
began to make signs to me, as if asking how I fared, noting 
that the grace had been conferred upon me. I not under¬ 
standing his signs, led him into the presence of the prior, and 
asked what he had meant. He said, “ Have you not had 
to-day a copious gift of tears?” When I asked if he had seen 
me weeping, he replied, “ How can you be so foolish as to 


ioo 



Of Contrition 


think that I saw you ? I have been bled, and it was not lawful 
for me to go into the church when mass was being said.” 
Then I asked him, how he had obtained that grace for me, 
and he answered in almost the same words as the woman we 
were speaking of juft now: “ I found the Lord hard at firff; 
but I said to Him, ‘ Lord, I will not let Thee go, until Thou 
do as I ask.’ He was pleased with these words of mine, and 
granted me my prayer.” 

Novice. —Marvellous is the loving kindness that can and 
will be thus constrained by His servants and handmaidens, 
as the kindest father is wont to be constrained by the sons and 
daughters that have been moSt tenderly brought up by him. 

Mon\. —Those who truly love Him, never suffer repulse 
from Him in their prayers, unless they ask for hurtful things. 

Novice. —If God confer upon anyone the grace of tears in 
prayer or other good marks of contrition, is it dangerous to 
the recipient to wish that they should be seen by others ? 

Mon\. —The answer to this question depends on the inten¬ 
tion. If he desires others to see his tears only for their edifica¬ 
tion, while he himself preserves true humility at heart, then 
it is well with him; but if not, it is ill. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of the mon\ whose tears were an invitation to the 
devil, because his heart was uplifted. 

A monk of high repute told me when I was a novice, about 
another monk, who was kneeling in prayer one day before the 
altar, when God gave him so abundant a gift of tears, that 
they even bedewed the pavement; whereupon, by the direct 
agency of the devil, as was afterwards made plain, vain glory 
sprang up in his heart, so that he said to himself, “ How I 
wish there was someone here to see this grace of mine.” 
Immediately the author of that ill desire was present under the 
appearance of a Benedictine monk, who ftood by his side and 

IOI 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


showed the greatest interest in his tears. The monk, raising 
his eyes, and realising, both by an inStincftive horror, and from 
the blackness of his dress, that it was the devil, the author of 
all pride, by the power and sign of the cross put to flight him 
whom he had invited by the vice of vain glory. 

Novice. —If you have any other examples of contrition, I 
beseech you to tell me them. 

Mon\. —In thinking upon contrition, many examples come 
to my mind, in which ChriSt, the author of every virtue, 
is glorified, and every kind of penitent consoled. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of a cler\ who debauched a Jewish maiden, and 
how the Jews were flruc\ dumb in the Cathedral, 
when they tried to accuse the offender who was now 
contrite. 

In a city of England there lived the daughter of a Jew, who, 
like many of her race, was a very beautiful girl. A young 
clerk, a relative of the bishop of that city and a canon of the 
cathedral saw her and fell in love with her, and after much 
difficulty persuaded her at la£t to consent to his desires. When 
in his impatience and consuming passion, he kept daily urging 
her, she said to him at laSt, “ I am very dear to my father, who 
watches over me so carefully that neither can I come to you 
or you to me, unless it be on the night of the Friday before 
your EaSter.” For then the Jews are said to labour under a 
a sickness called the bloody flux, with which they are so much 
occupied, that they can scarcely pay attention to anything else 
at that time. The youth hearing this and being almost beside 
himself with excess of desire, forgot his Christianity, forgot 
the passion of his Lord, and on that very night came to the 
maiden and spent the whole night with her till morning. 
Now the Jew, her father, in the early hours before the dawn, 
entered his daughter’s room, and wishing to see if she were 


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Of Contrition 


sleeping quietly or if by chance she needed warmer covering, 
came up to her bed. When he saw this youth lying by her 
side, he was aghaSt and cried out with rage and grief, and 
was on the point of killing him when he remembered that he 
was a relative of the bishop, and fear restrained his hand; but 
he cried out in bitter anger, “ What do you here, you vile 
ChriSHan? Where is your honour or your religion? You 
are delivered into my hands by the juSf judgment of God, and 
I would kill you now like a dog, if I were not afraid of my 
lord the bishop.” The youth, terrified by such an awakening 
and begging for mercy was driven out of the house in the 
utmoSt confusion. On that day the bishop was to celebrate 
the solemn office at three o'clock, and this youth, as being on 
duty for the week, was to read the epiStle. But while he was 
afraid to approach the sacred mySteries with a conscience so 
unclean, yet he feared to excite suspicion by getting another 
to take his place on such a day, and was afraid to disclose in 
confession so foul a sin so recently committed. So when, 
overcome by shamefacedness, he had robed himself in the 
sacred veStments, and was Standing in his place in the bishop’s 
presence, the Jew, followed by a great number of his fellows, 
burSt into the church with a great uproar, intending to com¬ 
plain to the bishop about his relative. When the youth saw 
him and knew full well why he had come, his heart turned 
to water, he grew pale, his limbs trembled, and he prayed in¬ 
wardly with all his heart, “ Lord God, deliver me now, and I 
vow to Thee that I will offend no more, and will make all the 
amends I can for this sin.” The moSt merciful Creator, who 
hateth sin, but loveth the sinner, as soon as He saw his con¬ 
trition, turned the dreaded confusion on to the heads of the 
unbelievers. The bishop, wondering what these Jews could 
want in the church, especially on that day when they were 
representing the passion of ChriSt their Lord, signed to them 
to Stand Still. They pressed nearer to him, but as soon as they 
opened their mouths to accuse the clerk, they found their 
voices gone, and none could utter a single word. The bishop, 
seeing the mouths of the Jews gaping wide at him and no 
sound coming from them, thought they had come there simply 
to mock at the holy mySteries, and indignantly ordered them 


i°3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


all to be driven out of the church. As soon as the mass was 
over, the clerk, after this experience of the Divine mercy 
vouchsafed to him, went to the bishop, made a full confession, 
and asked for penance. The bishop, admiring and glorifying 
the loving kindness of the Lord, both in the greatness of the 
miracle, and in the penitence of the youth, urged and 
persuaded him to marry lawfully this girl whom he had 
ruined, as soon as she should be born again in the grace of 
baptism; for he was a man both merciful and juft, and pre¬ 
ferred that his young relative should lose all hope of ecclesia- 
ftical preferment, than that the girl should be exposed to peril 
by remaining in her father’s sins. The clerk, not unmindful 
of the Divine bounty, and eager to atone to God for the sin 
he had committed, took the vows later in our Order, as did his 
wife at his inftigation, This ftory was told me by a certain 
pious abbot of our Order, and it shows you how much good 
was wrought by contrition in the case of this man; for by it 
the lapsed was reftored, the Jews were put to silence, and an 
infidel woman brought to the Faith. 

Novice. —Well do I see, wonder and rejoice, when I reflect 
how the goodness of God encompasses us in such manifold 
ways. 

Mon\. —As we have been speaking of Jews, would you like 
to hear another somewhat similar ftory, to the honour of our 
faith and of all Chriftian folk and to the confusion of the 
Jews? 

Novice. —Truly I am moft eager to hear it. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Also of a Jewess with child by a certain cler\, who, 
while her parents were expetting the birth of the 
Messiah, brought forth a daughter. 

Mon\. —In the city, I think, of Worms, there lived a Jew, 
who had a beautiful daughter; and close by lived a young 


104 



Of Contrition 


clerk, who fell in love with her, seduced her and got her with 
child; for their houses were so near together, that the clerk 
could enter unnoticed whenever he wished, and talk with the 
maiden at his pleasure. When she discovered that she had 
conceived, she said to the youth, “ I am with child, what shall 
I do? If my father should find out, he will kill me.” The 
clerk answered, “ Have no fear; I will make you perfectly 
safe. If your father or mother tell you that they suspecif any¬ 
thing, simply say that you know nothing about it, that all you 
know is that you are a maiden and have never known a man; 
I will so deal with them that they will surely believe you.” 
For he had pondered diligently how beft he could save the 
girl, and this was the device he had hit upon. He took a 
hollow reed, and at dead of night approached the room in 
which he knew her parents were sleeping, and putting the end 
of the reed in at the window, he spoke through it words like 
these : “ O upright souls, beloved of God,” and here he spoke 
their names, “ rejoice, for behold, your virgin daughter hath 
conceived a son, who shall be the deliverer of your people 
Israel;” and then he carefully withdrew the reed. The Jew 
who had awakened at the firft sound of this voice, shook his 
wife and said : “ Did you not hear what the heavenly voice 
said to us?” And when she answered, “No,” he said: 
“ Let us pray that you too may be found worthy to hear it.” 
While they were praying, the clerk, who was Standing by the 
window, and listening attentively to all they were saying, 
after a little delay repeated the same words as before and 
added : “ You must show great honour to your daughter, and 
tend her with the greatest care, and preserve diligently the boy 
who shall be born from her virgin body, for he is the 
Messiah, whose coming you have so long expefted.” 
They, in their exultation since this repetition confirmed 
the revelation, could scarcely wait for the dawn. Look¬ 
ing at their daughter, and seeing by her shape that she 
had conceived, they said to her: “ Tell us, daughter, 
by whom you are with child.” She replied juft as she had 
been inftrucfted; and they, almoft beside themselves with joy, 
could not refrain from telling their friends “what they had 
heard from the angel.” These told the ftory to others, and it 

to 5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


was bruited abroad through cities and towns that this maiden 
would give birth to the Messiah. When the time of her 
delivery drew near, many Jews flocked to the girl’s house, 
eager to share in the rejoicings over this new nativity so long 
hoped for. But the justice of God turned the vain hope of 
the wicked into an idle tale, their joy into sorrow, their 
expectation into confusion of face. And rightly; for it was 
fitting that they whose forefathers had been troubled like 
Herod by the birth of the Son of God, which brought salva¬ 
tion to mankind, should in these times be mocked by such 
a delusion. What need of more? The hour came in which 
the unhappy one should be delivered, and there ensued the 
usual pain, groans and cries. At la£t she brought forth an 
infant, not indeed the Messiah, but a daughter. When this 
became known, there was much confusion and trouble among 
the Jews, and one of them, wild with indignation, seized the 
poor baby by the foot and dashed it againSt the wall. 

Novice .—What happened to the girl after all this? 

Mon \.—Her father, overcome with anger at his shame, 
treated her cruelly, and extraded from her by torture a con¬ 
fession of the whole fraud. 

Novice .—It was a miserable ending, that an infidel maiden, 
who had been seduced and ruined by a Christian man should 
not have been brought to baptism, like the girl you told me of 
above. 

Mon \.—Perhaps the clerk was really unable to bring this 
about, or more likely perhaps took no pains to do it, but 
rejoiced rather in the confounding of the Jews than in the 
enlightenment of the maiden. If, as you say, it was a miser¬ 
able thing that the unbaptized was not brought to the truth 
by baptism, it is a Still more dreadful thing that in our own 
day one who had been baptized should have been urged by a 
Christian bishop to return to Judaism. 

Novice .—Will you tell me about that? 



Of Contrition 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Also of a baptized Jewish maiden at Louvain. 

Mon \.—A little while ago, the daughter of a Jew at 
Louvain was converted to the faith in the following manner. 
A clerk named Rener, chaplain to the Duke of Louvain, was 
in the habit of going to the house of this Jew to argue with 
him about the Christian faith. His daughter, then a little 
girl, would often listen very eagerly to the discussion, and 
would weigh, as well as her intelligence allowed, both the 
arguments of the Jew her father, and those of his clerical 
opponent; and so, little by little, she became by the providence 
of God, imbued with the Christian faith. Being taught 
secretly also by the clerk, she became so far contrite as to say 
that she wished to be baptized. A woman was brought to 
her, who withdrew her secretly from her father’s house; the 
clerk baptized her and placed her in a convent of the Cister¬ 
cian Order, called Parc-aux-Dames. When her conversion 
became known, the infidel father was much grieved, and 
offered the Duke a great sum of money to reStore to him his 
daughter, who, he complained, had been taken by Stealth 
from his house. Now the Duke was quite willing to reStore 
the girl, though a Christian, to her father, though a Jew; but 
the clerk Rener resisted him, saying, “ Sir, if you commit 
this crime againSt God and His church, never can your soul 
be saved.” Dom Walter, the abbot of Villiers, also 
opposed him. The Jew, seeing that he was disappointed of 
the hope he had cherished from the Duke, is said to have 
bribed Hugo, the bishop of Liege, who took the part of the 
Jew to such an extent, that he sent letters to the convent of 
nuns at Parc-aux-Dames, ordering them to reStore his 
daughter to him. But when the Jew, accompanied by his 
friends and relations reached the convent, the maiden, who 
was established there, though she knew nothing of his coming, 
began to perceive a very evil odour, so that she said openly, 
“ I do not know whence it comes, but an odour as of Jews is 
troubling me.” Meanwhile the Jews were knocking at the 
window; and the abbess, as I believe, said to the girl, 

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“ Daughter Catharine,” for so she had been named at her 
baptism, “ your parents wish to see you.” She replied, 
“ That explains the odour I perceived ; I will not see them ;” 
and she refused to leave the house. At the end of the year 
the bishop of Liege was accused of this adion of his before 
Dom Engilbert Archbishop of Cologne in the Synod held by 
him, and he was ordered never again to trouble the aforesaid 
convent with regard to this girl who had been baptized. He 
was silenced for a time, but not really obedient; for not long 
afterwards he sent a letter summoning the young woman, 
under pain of excommunication, to come to Liege to answer 
the objections raised by her father. She came but under 
good protection. It was alleged, on the part of the Jew, that 
she was carried away and baptized by force when under age; 
and it was said to the girl: “ Katharine, we have been told 
that you would gladly go back to your father, if you were 
allowed.” She replied, ‘‘Who told you this?” and they 
answered, “ Your father himself.” Then in a clear voice 
she uttered these words: “ My father truly has lied in his 
beard.” Now when the Jew’s advocate continued to urge 
her, Dom Walter, the abbot of Villers was much moved and 
said to him : “ Sir, you are speaking againSt God and againSt 
your own honour. Be sure of this, that if you say one single 
word more againSt the girl, I will do all I can with the lord 
Pope, that you may never be allowed to speak in any cause 
again.” Then being frightened by this, he said privately to 
the abbot, “ My lord abbot, what harm does it do to you if 
I can manage to get money out of this Jew? I will say noth¬ 
ing that can possibly hurt the girl.” But presently When he 
received his fees from the Jew, he said to him, “ I do not 
dare to say another word in this case.” At the end of the 
year, when Dom Wido, abbot of Clairvaux, was making his 
visitation in the diocese of Liege, he met the bishop, warned 
him, and begged him to have resped: for God and his own 
honour, and to cease from harassing a maiden already dedi¬ 
cated to Chrift. To whom the bishop replied : “ My good 
lord abbot, what has this case to do with you?” The abbot 
answered, “ It has a great deal to do with me, and for two 
reasons; firSt because I am a Christian, and next, because that 

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Of Contrition 


convent in which she is living is of the lineage of Clairvaux ; ” 
and he added, “ I shall place this girl and her case under the 
protection of the lord Pope, and shall ground my appeal upon 
the letters written by you against her.” At the time of the 
General Chapter, he sent to the Prior of Parc, through our 
abbot, letters which he had obtained from the lord Pope 
againft the bishop, so that, if by any chance the bishop should 
attempt to harass the convent further on this girls’ account, 
he might defend himself by these letters. 

Novice .—Juft as, a little while ago, I was edified by the 
pity of the English bishop, so am I now scandalized by the 
avarice of him of Liege. 

Mon \.—His defenders say that his persiftence in this 
affair was due, not to love of money, but to zeal for juftice. 
But it is difficult to believe this, because if he had been 
actuated by the motive of juftice, he would certainly not have 
tried to force a baptised girl, a virgin consecrated to Chrift 
and a nun in a Chriftian convent, to return to Jewish infidelity. 

Novice. —Yes, I fully agree with that. 

Mon \.—I have thought of another example, somewhat 
similar to this, of a man in the world, a knight, whose action 
seems of itself to reproach this bishop. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

Of a girl who was baptized at Linz. 

In a town not far from us called Linz, there was within 
the laft three years a girl, the daughter of a Jew, who was 
kindled from on high with a desire for baptism ; and she 
went to a certain matron of that town and told her quite 
simply that she wished to be baptized. The woman advised 
her to go to the knight Conrad, and lay her wish before him. 
This she did, and the knight, overjoyed to be able to help her, 
gladly promised her his advice, and every kind of support 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


that was in his power to give. On the day she was to be 
baptized, she said to him: “ Sir, I pray you to arrange that 
my father may not see me within the next three days ; for 
if he should discover me, he is so clever that I fear he would 
compel me to return again to Judaism.” The knight there¬ 
upon ported armed men at all the approaches to the church 
to keep the Jew away, so that the maiden might go in and 
out without fear of being seen by her father ; and by God’s 
will, the virgin was baptized under the name of Elizabeth. 
A few days afterwards, her infidel mother met her and urged 
her to come back to Judiasm. “ I cannot,” she replied, 
“for I have already been made a Christian.” Then said 
the mother, “ I can easily undo your baptism.” The girl, 
wishing to find out what her mother meant by this, asked 
how she would do it. “ I would draw you,” said the Jewess, 
“ three times through the opening of the latrine, and thus 
the virtue of your baptism would be left behind.” When 
the daughter heard this, she cursed her mother, spat at her, 
and fled away. The aforesaid knight, though young and not 
very rich, brought up the maiden like a daughter, intending 
either to find a nusband for her, or to place her in a convent. 

Novice .—What will the bishop of Liege say in the Day of 
Judgment when he shall see the knight delighting in the 
conversion of the maiden P 

Mon \.—It is not for us to judge our bishops, for they are 
much criticised by many, and sometimes condemned without 
cause. 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

0/ a cler\ who said that the German bishops could 
not be saved. 

A few years ago this terrible saying was uttered against 
bishops by a clerk in Paris: “ I can believe a great deal,” he 


no 



Of Contrition 


said, “but there is one thing I can never believe, namely, that 
any bishop in Germany can ever be saved ! ” 

Novice .—Why should he condemn the bishops in Germany 
rather than those of France, England, Lombardy or Tuscany? 

Mon \.—Because all the bishops in Germany have both 
swords committed to them ; I mean the temporal power as 
well as the spiritual ; and since they hold the power of life 
and death, and make wars, they are compelled to be more 
anxious about the pay of their soldiers than the welfare of the 
souls committed to their charge. Nevertheless we find 
among the bishops of Cologne, who were both Pontiffs and 
temporal Princes, some who were also saints ; for instance, 
the blessed Bruno, S. Heribert and S. Hanno. The words 
of this clerk recall to my mind a Still more terrible saying 
uttered againSt bishops by a man now dead. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Of a monk of Clairvaux, who refused to accept a 
bishopric. 

In our own day there was a monk of Clairvaux who was 
elected to a bishopric ; but when the electors sent to invite him, 
he refused to take up the burden of office ; the command of 
his abbot was then laid upon him, but he Still refused. There¬ 
fore they left off pressing him, and not long after he died. 
After his death he appeared very plainly to a friend of his, 
who asked him how he fared, and if he had anything to fear 
for his refusal. He answered “ No,” and added : “ If I had 
obeyed and undertaken the bishopric, I should have been 
eternally loSt ; ” and then he made use of a very terrible 
expression: “ The condition of the church, ” he said, “ has 
come to this, that it is no longer worthy of being ruled by any 
but reprobate bishops.” 

Novice .—It is surely proved, by the many miracles that 
he wrought, that S. William, bishop of Bordeaux, was among 
the number of the eledt. 


in 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Monk{. —I think that in passing this terrible sentence, he 
was thinking of the great number of bad bishops, and of the 
comparative rarity of the good, and that the wickedness of 
the people required this rarity. 

Novice. —May we leave this subjed now, because there is 
dill much that I want to hear about contrition ? 

Mon\. —What I have been telling you about baptized girls 
and bishops does belong to contrition, because in adults bap¬ 
tism without contrition can have no saving effed, and it is 
the part of bishops to heal the contrite in heart by hearing 
confessions and appointing penance. Wherefore since few 
bishops in our time are zealous in such medicine, and pradise 
it so little, they are sometimes judly condemned by their 
perishing flock. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of a bishop of Lombardy, who showed to Christian, 
bishop of Mainz, the names of all his floc\ written 
out upon a scroll. 

In the days of the Emperor Frederick, the grandfather of 
the Frederick now reigning, Chridian the bishop of Mainz 
found himself on a certain occasion sitting next to a bishop 
of Lombardy, who asked him if he knew all the people in 
the diocese. To this the bishop replied, smiling, “ I think 
that my diocese is about the size of the whole of Lombardy ; ” 
and the other in his kindly anxiety was terrified to think of 
the peril his brother mud incur in giving his account, 1 and 
said, “ I know the names of all the sheep entruded to me ; 
they are all written down in this paper,” taking out a scroll 
and showing it to him. 

Novice. —I do not wonder: for can a man guide so many 
souls without peril to himself? 

Mon\. —That reminds me of a very terrible prophecy, 

1 There seems to be a hiatus here. It is filled by the next two lines taken from 
the same &ory, as told in the author’s “ Homilies.” 


112 



Of Contrition 


which agrees with what is said above, and which seems to be 
fulfilled in our times. This was the tenor of it. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

The vision of a mon\ concerning the schism of the 
Roman Empire, of the calamities of the diocese of 
Cologne, of the Holy Land and of the coming of 
AntichriSl. 

Once when brother Simon was Standing in prayer before 
the altar of S. Mary, the Mother of God, he heard a voice 
saying to him : “ Take this warning to your chief paftor and 
say ‘ Thy sheep will bleed profusely.’ And bid him not to 
kill himself and them with poison ; for he too hath set his 
affections on the bellies of wide-gaping wolves. My people 
will begin to be troubled by the cruel beaft who is become 
incarnate. Go forth, and proclaim on all sides the great 
wrath of Almighty God, and say: ‘ Except you be converted 
and amend your ways, you shall be slain and caft into the 
eternal fires. My enemies will avenge my wrongs.’ ” After 
this there appeared to him five very fat sheep, and then three 
lean oxen. And when he asked what these meant, it was 
answered, “ The five sheep are five years of great abundance, 
and the three oxen are three years of extreme famine.” And 
again, “ Traitorous Romans will ftir up cruel rumours, and 
by their evil counsel will divide the Roman power.” And 
again, “ Jerusalem shall be taken and destroyed, and my 
enemies will fulfil my anger, because they have polluted the 
Streets, which once my own feet trod. They shall be afflifted 
with the extremity of hunger. Heaven and earth tremble, 
but man refuseth to tremble before that which cometh from 
the cruel beaft. After this shall the sun be turned into dark¬ 
ness. Then shall come the day that shall have the length 
of two days. But after the darkening of the sun, it shall be 
known that the cruel bead will be revealed to the ten loft 
tribes. And the blood of all the saints, that is of all my 


”3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


people, shall be poured forth, because at that time the former 
persecutions shall revive. Therefore let every one of my 
chosen prepare himself, that he may walk uprightly in this 
short life.” After this, brother Simon saw a demon, clad in 
breaSfplate and helmet, having scales like the scales of a carp. 
His eyes blazed fitfully, like a torch that the wind blows upon. 
Out of his mouth and noStrils proceeded flames of sulphur ; 
his teeth were part white, part yellow. And after this there 
came a voice: “ After the darkening of the sun, the cruel 
beaSt by black magic shall raise up certain Jews as if from 
the dead, but they will not be Jews, but false prophets, saying 
that they have risen from the dead, and Stirring vain hopes 
in the real Jews, encouraging them in their unbelief and 
deceiving many.” Then was added, “ O Cologne, bewail 
thy miseries that shall come upon thee, for all these woes 
shall come, not alone for the guilt of thy bishop, but also for 
that of the whole people. None the less that bishop muSt 
suffer moSt, for he is the head of all the reSt.” When our 
convent went forth (I, i) to the mountain of Stromberg, 
it found there that all this vision was fulfilled. In that same 
year Jerusalem was taken, and the Holy Land ; as had been 
foretold in the vision. 

Novice .—I much desire to know the interpretation of this 
vision. 

Mon \.—It seems to me to treat partly of those things which 
happened in our times in the diocese of Cologne, and partly 
of tne coming of Antichrist. Moreover this revelation was 
made in the diocese of Cologne, and to the bishop of that 
diocese, as I gather from the conclusion of it ; but who this 
Simon was I do not know at all. The “ chief paStor ” I under¬ 
stand to be the bishop Adolphus, who after the death of the 
Emperor Henry, looking upon the Empire as a thing for 
sale, was infedted with the poison of avarice, and was the 
cause of the death of very many. Nor is this wonderful. 
For he “ set his affedtions upon the bellies of wolves gaping 
widely ” for the treasures of Richard, King of England, and 
by their advice chose Otto 1 the Saxon, his nephew, to be 

1 Son of Henry the Lion ; a favourite nephew of Richard I, who made him 
Duke of Yorkshire and Count of Poitou, and supported his claim to the Empire. 



Of Contrition 


King of the Romans. From that time “ the cruel beaft,” that 
is, avarice, was incarnate ; that is, became so companionable 
and dear to men, that under its influence Chriftian potentates 
forsook both faith and righteous dealing, neglefted their oaths 
and made light of perjury. At that time a Cardinal was 
sent to Cologne to confirm the election of Otto, and to absolve 
the princes mom the oath they had sworn to Frederick, 1 who 
is now reigning ; which caused, as the event showed, rather 
the division of the Empire than its consolidation. From that 
time the provinces were wafted with fire and the churches 
spoiled, much blood was shed, Adolphus was deposed, 
Cologne besieged. Then was fulfilled the laft part of the 
vision, “ O Cologne, bewail thy miseries, etc.” In the 
beginning of the episcopate of this Adolphus, although it had 
been preceded by years of great abundance, there followed 
three years of such fterility, that in the early spring a bushel 
of winter wheat was sold for a mark of silver. The reft of 
the vision is very obscure and beyond my comprehension. 

Novice .—At the time of the division of the Roman Empire, 
the lord Pope Innocent was condemned by many who said 
that he was the author of the schism, firft by taking hotly the 
part of Otto, and afterwards by opposing him. 

Mon /(.—That is why when the same Innocent of blessed 
memory was one day preaching at Rome to edify the people, 
John Capot, who was an adherent of Otto, interrupted him, 
crying out: “ Thy words are the words of God, but thy deeds 
are the deeds of the devil.” 

Novice .—I beg you to come back to the subject of con¬ 
trition, from which we have wandered far, by the occasion 
of a few chance words. 

Mon \.—So great is the power of contrition, that no sin 
can withstand it, neither perjury, nor murder, nor theft, nor 
even usury. 


1 Henry in H97 had induced them to swear fealty to Frederick, then a child 
of two years old. Philip II, his uncle, was elected by the Diet of Muhlhausen 
1198; and accepted, finding his nephew’s claims impossible. Three months later, 
the other party of German magnates met at Cologne, and elected Otto. Civil 
war between the two for ten years ensued. Both appealed to Innocent III, who 
in 1201 decided in favour of Otto : but in 1207 Philip had become so strong that the 
Pope changed his mind and advised Otto to resign. 


”5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

Of the contention of holy angels with demons for the 
soul of a contrite usurer. 

An aged prieSt, who was a Benedidtine monk, told me a 
Story, well worth remembering, about a usurer ; I do not 
know if it has ever been written down. He said that there 
was a very rich usurer, who held in pledge the treasuries of 
various churches ; and this man, while his heart was Still full 
of insatiable avarice, was Stricken down with mortal sickness. 
Then for the firSt time he came to his right mind, late though 
it was, and began to think upon the burden of usury, the 
torments of hell, and the difficulty of repentance. And 
sending for a Benedidine abbot, who was known to him, he 
said : “ Sir, I am grievously ill, I cannot undertake the order¬ 
ing of any of my affairs, nor reStore the money I have exaded ; 
if you will undertake to give account to God for my soul, 
and promise me absolution of my sins, I will put into your 
hands all my property, real and personal, so that you may do 
with it what may seem to you good.” The abbot, perceiving 
the man to be truly contrite, truly penitent, replied: “ I will 
think this over.” Hastening to the bishop, he told him all 
that the usurer had said, and asked for his advice. The 
bishop replied : “ I think it is right that you should accept 
the property and answer for his soul, provided that you reStore 
to me the treasure of my church.” Immediately the abbot 
returned to the sick man and said: “ I have thought it over, 
and have determined to take charge of your property, and 
to answer to God for your sins.” The sick man answered : 
“ Then my advice is that you bring carts at once, and carry 
out all my property firSt, and take me laSt of all ; then you 
will find no difficulty in the removal.” For he had two 
cheSts full of silver and gold, and also very many pledges in 
vases, books, and various ornaments ; much corn and wine 
and furniture, as well as a vaft number of cattle. Then the 
abbot after sending everything on before, laft of all put the 
sick man himself into a carriage, and hastened to the 
monastery ; but no sooner did the carriage enter the gates 

116 



Of Contrition 


than the invalid breathed his laft. Then the abbot, not 
unmindful of his promise, took pains to restore the products 
of usury as far as he possibly could and beftowed bountiful 
alms for the soul of the usurer ; the reft he used for the good 
of the convent. The body was laid in the church, and relays 
of monks were appointed to sing the psalms round the bier. 
During the night, while the brethren were chanting earneftly, 
four foul spirits appeared and took up their position on the 
left hand side of the coffin. At this sight, all the brethren 
were terrified and fled in panic, except one aged monk. And 
behold, an equal number of holy angels placed themselves on 
the right hand over againft the four demons. Straightway 
he, who seemed to be the leader of the demons, broke out 
into that psalm of David (Ps. xxxvi) " My heart showeth 
me the wickedness of the ungodly: that there is no fear of 
God before his eyes ; this is fulfilled in this man.” Another 
said " For he flattereth himself in his own sight: until his 
abominable sin be found out." And the third added, "The 
words of his mouth are unrighteous and full of deceit: he 
hath left off to behave himself wisely and to do good." The 
fourth said, He imagineth mischief upon his bed and hath set 
himself in no good way: neither doth he abhor anything that 
is evil." Then they said all together, “ If God be juft, and 
His words true, this man is ours, because he is guilty of all 
these things.” Answered the holy angels, “If you bring 
forward againft him this psalm of David, go on with it.” 
The demon said, “ That is enough for us, for his damnation.” 
To this the angels answered, “ Since you are silent, we will 
bring forward the reft of the Psalm, which you have only 
begun.” The firft said: "Thy mercy, O Lord reacheth 
unto the heavens: and Thy faithfulness unto the clouds." 
To which the second angel added, " Thy righteousness 
Slandeth like the Strong mountains: Thy judgments are like 
the great deep." Then the third: " Thou, Lord, shalt save 
both man and beaSl; how excellent is Thy mercy, 0 God:’’ 
And when the fourth added, “ The children of men shall put 
their truSl under the shadow of Thy wings ; " they all broke 
out together : “ Because God is juft, and the Scripture cannot 
be broken, this child of man is ours ; he fled to the Lord, and 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


to the Lord he shall go, because he put his truSt under the 
shadow of His wings : he shall be satisfied with the pleasures 
of His house, for he hath bewailed himself with the tears of 
contrition ; and he shall drin\ of His pleasures as out of the 
river ; for with Him is the well of life: and in His light shall 
he see light ." At this word the devils were confounded and 
Stricken dumb ; the heavenly messengers took up the soul of 
the contrite sinner, and rejoiced over him. 

Novice. —Which was the more helpful to this usurer, his 
alms or his contrition? 

MonJ(. —This I can tell you of a certainty, that if contrition 
had been lacking, his alms would have profited him but little. 
Do you wish to hear what reception God gives to the alms 
of a usurer? 

Novice. —Very much do I wish and desire it. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of the contrition of a usurer, who was devoured by 
reptiles generated by the alms he had offered. 

Mon\. —Through the mouths of many this Story has be¬ 
come well known in Cologne about a usurer who was buried 
in the church of S. Gereon the martyr. He was a rich and 
avaricious man, but, being at laSt touched by Divine mercy, 
he went to a prieSt, made his confession, and that he might 
appease God for his many sins, promised that he would give 
all his goods to the poor for His Name’s sake. The prieSt 
replied, “ Take alms of your Store of loaves, and fill this cheSt 
with them, and close it.” When the cheSt was opened the 
next day, they found that all the loaves he had put into it as 
alms were turned into reptiles. Whereupon the prieSt said 
to him, “ Do you see now how pleasing to God are the alms 
of usury?” The other was terrified, and said, “Sir, what 
muSt I do?” The prieSt replied, “ If you wish to be saved, 
you muSt lie this night naked among those creatures.” Mar¬ 
vellous proof of contrition ! He, although he shrank with 

118 



Of Contrition 


loathing from such a bed, yet despising worms that die in 
his desire to escape from those that are everlafting, in fear of 
hell, and in longing for the heavenly home, he threw himself 
naked upon the reptiles. Then the priefl went to the cheft, 
closed it, and departed. When he opened it next day, he 
found nothing within except the man’s skeleton. This was 
buried in the porch of the aforesaid martyr, and it is said that 
the bones are of so great san&ity that up to this day no living 
reptile has been able to pass them. 

Novice.— If the very alms of usurers are turned into 
reptiles, what sort of worms will be born from the reft of 
their property? 

Mon {.—Worms infernal, worms undying ; of whom it 
is said by Isaiah in the case of such persons, Their worm 
shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched, and they 
shall be an abhorring unto all flesh (Isaiah lxvi. 24). Beneath 
them the worm is spread (Isaiah xiv. 11) ; their bodies will 
be consumed by the undying worms of hell, and their souls 
gnawed with the worm of conscience. 

Novice. —Could then that abbot, of whom you spoke 
before, make the alms from the money of the usurer fruitful 
for his soul? 

Mon^. —Firff, as I said, he restored all the usury to the 
very beff of his ability, and only when that was done, did he 
give alms of what was left. This had not been done in the 
present case. That this is lawful will be shown from the 
following example. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Of the contrition of Theobald, a usurer of Paris. 

When Philip was King of France, the predecessor of the 
present 1 King, there lived in the city of Paris a very rich 
usurer called Theobald. At the time when he was at the 

1 Louis VIII, 1223-6. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


height of his prosperity, and the possessor of untold wealth 
made by usury, he, by the Divine mercy, was touched with 
compundion, and went to Maurice the bishop, and humbly 
asked counsel of him. He at that time was very eagerly 
engaged in building the Church of Notre Dame and advised 
him to give all his money for the furtherance of the work. 
The usurer, dissatisfied with this advice, went to MaSter 
Peter the Precentor, and told him what the bishop had said. 
He replied: “ I do not think that he has given good advice 
this time ; go rather and tell the crier to proclaim through¬ 
out the city that you are prepared to make restitution to all 
from whom you have taken any more than was due.” And 
so it was done. Then he went back to the precentor and 
said : “ To all who came to me I have restored everything 
that I had taken from them, my conscience bearing witness, 
and Still there is an abundance left.” Then said the other: 
“ Now you may give alms without fear.” Dom Daniel, the 
abbot of Schonau, told me that, by the advice of the same 
Precentor, he walked through the Streets of the city, naked 
except for a loin cloth, while a servant drove him forward 
with a rod, crying aloud, “ Lo, this is he whom the State 
honoured for his wealth, who held the sons of nobles as 
hoStages.” 

Novice .—From these two usurers I see plainly the virtue 
of contrition, because, as I judge, when its Stream flows from 
the heart, there is no toil, no shrinking, no shame that can 
obstruct its channels. 

Mon \.—You say truth, because contrition is dried up by 
the fear of a small penance, has no source from whence it 
flows. 

Novice .—Usury seems to me to be of a very defective nature, 
because we rarely see it laSt to the third or fourth generation. 

Mon \.—Not only is it of a defedive, but even of a destruc¬ 
tive nature, for, as you say, it quickly fails in itself, and 
sometimes destroys that which is mixed or associated with it. 

Novice .—Give me an example. 

Mon \.—What I am going to tell you I heard from certain 
abbots of our Order, but I have forgotten the name of the 
place where it happened. 


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Of Contrition 
CHAPTER XXXIV. 


Of the money of a usurer which devoured the money 
of a mo nailery when it was placed near it. 

A usurer once entrusted a certain sum of money to a cellarer 
of our Order to keep for him. He sealed up this money 
and put it in the safe by the side of the monastery money. 
Later when the other reclaimed his deposit, the cellarer, 
unlocking the safe, found that both it and the monastery 
money had disappeared. Now when he found that the locks 
of the safe were untouched, and the seals of the bags 
unbroken, so that there could be no suspicion of theft, he 
understood that the money of the usurer had destroyed both 
the monastery money and itself. From this it can be 
gathered that the property of a monastery is not only 
not increased, but actually diminished by the alms of usury. 

Novice. —These are wonderful things which you have told 
me of contrition, but I want to ask you if one who has no 
eyes can have contrition, since without eyes he cannot weep. 

Monf^. —Contrition does not consist in tears but in the 
emotion of the heart, whose outward signs are indeed tears 
of the eyes, but the heart has tears of its own. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of the contrition of a certain noble, who had been 
blinded by Henry, Du\e of Saxony. 

Henry, duke of Saxony, the father of the Emperor Otto, 
once put out the eyes of a certain nobleman in punishment 
for some crime. But God in His mercy, converted the 
penalty of blindness into a healing medicine, and poured so 
great contrition into his heart, that he bemoaned his sins 
without ceasing and was for ever sighing in longing for his 

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heavenly home. He haunted the church of the Blessed 
Mother of God in Hildesheim, spending all his time in prayer 
and facing. It happened by chance that a certain fool 
uttered his folly in his hearing, saying, “ He, who has no eyes 
here, will have none in the future life, with which to see 
God.” He was much disturbed by these words, and while 
he was daily lamenting and could find no comfort in anything 
that was said to him, some blamed him, and he answered : 
“ Unless it can be proved to me on the authority of the Scrip¬ 
tures, I shall never be comforted.” This was easily done by 
learned men of whom there was a great abundance in that 
city. 

Novice .—Will you tell me how it was proved? 

Mon \.—The Saviour said to the chosen : Not a hair of 
your head shall perish (Luke xxi. 18). Upon this passage S. 
Augustine comments : “ Can the head perish, on which no 
hair perishes ? Can the eye perish, where the eyelid does not 
perish?” meaning that this is impossible. All the dead will 
rise again without any defetft ; the wicked, that they may be 
punished in all their members, the good, that they may be 
rewarded in all. This I say and confidently believe, that 
every man, whether he has been righteous or a sinner, if he 
die in the very leaft contrition, will see God. To which 
vision may our Lord Jesus Chrift, who is the splendour of 
glory, vouchsafe to bring us, who, with the Father and the 
Holy Spirit, liveth and reigneth, world without end. Amen. 


122 




[ face 0. 122 
















BOOK III 


OF CONFESSION 


CHAPTER I. 

What confession is, of what sort it ought to be, what 
is its power, and what its fruit. 

Since all contrition is fruitless unless it is accompanied by 
the desire of confession, we ought to see what confession is, of 
what sort it ought to be, what is its virtue, and what its 
fruits. 

Novice.— If contrition is unsubstantial unless it contain the 
intention of confession, it is surely necessary to know this, 
especially for novices, who soon after making their vows are 
obliged to confess to their abbot all the sins they have com¬ 
mitted, as you have taught me, and as I have experienced in 
my own case. 

Mon\. —Confession is so great a benefit that, by the desire 
of it alone, even if necessity forbid it being carried out, sins 
are forgiven. 

Novice. —What is confession? 

Mon\. —You ought to know there are three kinds of con¬ 
fession, of praise, of faith, of sin. Confession of sin is that 
by which the hidden disease of the soul is laid bare in the 
hope of pardon. It ought to be voluntary, done withoui 
delay and dutifully, modeft, general, special, individual, 
unvarnished, complete, discreet, self-accusing, bitter, anxious, 
meticulous, true, proportionate, glad, personal and frequent. 
I run over these qualifications briefly, and do not explain 





The Dialogue on Miracles 


them fully for the sake of brevity, because I want to get on 
to the examples. 

Novice. —Has confession any authority from the Old 
Testament ? 

Mon\. —Confession is said to be a sacrament of the Old 
Testament, declared in it by manifest figures, enjoined in 
words and confirmed by examples. The leper is judged clean 
or unclean by the verdidt of the prieSt (Levit. xiii. and xiv.). 
Wherefore the Saviour said to the leper whom He had 
cleansed, Go and show thyself to the prieSl (Matt. viii. 4). In 
the words of this short text, there are four things which I 
think ought to be considered, for they are four things that 
ought to be especially observed in confession: namely, that 
it should be without delay, unvarnished, complete, dutiful, 
that is, that it should be made to a man’s own paSfor. As if 
the Lord had said, Go, i.e. let your confession be swift and 
without delay, show, i.e. let it be unvarnished, thyself, i.e. that 
it should be complete, to the priell, i.e. that it should be duti¬ 
ful. When the grace of Jesus cleanses a man inwardly by 
contrition, he ought to show himself to the prieft by confes¬ 
sion, so that he may be seen by others to be clean. That it is 
also confirmed by example, we have the example of David 
himself, who, after his sin with Bathsheba, when Nathan 
came to him, answered in the words, I have sinned againfl 
the Lord (2 Sam. xii. 13). 

Novice. —Will you tell me which has the greater power, 
contrition or confession ? 

Mon\. —His sin is not forgiven to the sinner without 
contrition, and this only on the condition that confession shall 
follow. Yet, if necessity should prevent confession, our 
great High Prieft will supply that defedt. Nevertheless con¬ 
fession is the proof of contrition, and its power and fruit I 
propose to set before you rather by examples than by proofs 
from Holy Scripture. 


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Of Confession 


CHAPTER II. 

Of a clerk, who had violated the wife of a knight, 

and after his confession the devil admitted that he 
had been forgiven. 

In a certain village there was a prieSt who had committed 
adultery with the wife of a knight who lived in the same 
village. This was reported to the husband, but he, though 
not untroubled by suspicion, yet being a prudent man and 
unwilling to believe evil on mere report, said nothing either 
to his wife or the prieSt, being anxious firSt to discover the 
real truth. Now it happened that, in another village not 
far away, there lived one who was possessed by a devil so 
malicious that, when people came into his presence, he would 
taunt them openly with any sins which had not been blotted 
out by true confession. AH this was well known to the 
knight, for it was a frequent subjeft of conversation ; and he 
asked the suspected prieSt to be good enough to go with him 
to a certain conference ; and the prieSt agreed. When they 
arrived at the village where the demoniac lived, the prieSt, 
conscious of his guilt, began to be suspicious, because he knew 
that the man possessed by that malicious spirit lived there. 
Fearing for his life, if the demon should betray him, he 
feigned a necessity of nature, and entering a Stable, prostrated 
himself before the feet of the knight’s serving man, saying: 
“ I beseech you for God’s sake to hear my confession.” The 
servant, when he heard the confession was terrified, and tried 
to raise him up ; when it was over, the prieSt asked for a 
penance: but the man very prudently replied, “ What you 
would assign to another prieSt for such a crime, let that be 
your penance.” And so going out in peace of mind, he went 
with the knight to the church. Here they met the demoniac, 
and the knight said to him, “ Do you know anything about 
me?” He said this with the intention of preventing sus¬ 
picion in the prieSt, and when the demon had made some 
reply, he added, “ Do you know anything about this prieSt? 
“ He answered, “ I know nothing about him.” This he 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


said in German, and immediately added in Latin, “ He justi¬ 
fied himself in the Stable.” There was no one else present 
at the time who understood Latin. 

Novice. —I am sure that it was not of his own will that 
the devil spoke Latin then. 

Mon\. —He was not allowed to speak in German, leSt the 
knight should understand and infer tne hidden meaning ; yet 
he was not permitted to keep silence that the prieSt might 
realise the value of confession. 

Novice. —Great is the power of confession, since it could 
wipe out from the devil’s memory even the crime of adultery, 
and could deliver the sinner from imminent danger. 

Mon —Hear further the fruit of this confession. The 
prieSt, not unmindful of the mercy shown to him, left the 
world, and became a monk in a monastery of our Order. He 
is thought to be alive Still, as I learnt from a CiStercian abbot. 

Novice. —The word of this wanton demon became for him 
a cause of great salvation. 

Mon\. —Another similar Story was also told me. 


CHAPTER III. 

Also of the servant of another hnight, who, having 
sinned with the wife of his matter, after confessing 
the sin to a ruttic in a wood, could not be betrayed 
by the devil. 

The wife of another knight, inflamed with dishonourable 
passion, had sinned with her own servant ; for some time 
this had been done in secret, but it could not be hid for ever, 
and came at laSt to the ears of her husband. But he, though 
deeply grieved at the report, was not a man to give full 
credence to gossip, and therefore kept silence, knowing that 
if he watched, so unspeakable a crime could not long remain 
hidden. Because he was a man both wealthy and of good 

126 



Of Confession 


repute, and the reputation of his wife was so poor and dis¬ 
honourable, he preferred to cover the matter with silence for 
a time, rather than dishonour with suspicion both himself and 
his wife, as well as her family and his own. Now it was 
a subjedl of common talk that there was in such a village a 
demoniac (I do not know if it was the same as in the lafl ftory) 
who spared no one, but when any came into his presence, he 
threw in their teeth their hidden sins and upbraided them. 
The knight heard this, and hoped to get at the truth through 
this man; so he took his servant with him and set out, the 
servant having no inkling of the reason of the journey. 
When they came to a certain wood, the knight turned off to 
the track which led to the village of the demoniac; then fear 
seized upon the serving man, for he knew that his life was 
forfeit, if the demon should divulge his crime. While he 
was thus terror Stricken, and completely at a loss what to do, 
he heard a man cutting logs in the foreSt; and the Lord put 
it into his mind (for he had been diligently praying in that 
hour of trial) that confession was the best possible remedy 
againSt the imminent danger ; and leaving his maSter 
as if for a necessity of nature, he went to the ruSlic, confessed 
his sin, and undertook penance. Coming back forthwith to 
his master, who suspeiled nothing of all this, they went 
together to the demon. When the demoniac had gazed very 
earneSlly upon the adulterous serving man, now indeed 
justified from his adultery, the knight said to him: “ Tell 
me if you know anything about this man. The demon 
replied: “ I did know many things about him, but now I 
know nothing.” And so by the virtue of confession the 
servant was delivered from death and his maSter from 
suspicion. You see the value of a true confession. 

Novice .—What do you mean by true confession ? 

Monk .—One in which there is a firm intention to make 
amends. 

Novice .—Suppose the penance itself is never carried out ? 

Mon \.—If that negligence does not arise from sickness or 
impossibility, but the penance enjoined is treated lightly and 
despised, as often happens, the sin, which was lately for¬ 
given, returns. Even if the sin were venial, and the penance 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


omitted through mere forgetfulness, I cannot admit that the 
punishment of that sin is wiped out, when there has been such 
forgetfulness. 


CHAPTER IV. 

Of a prieU, who negletted the penance assigned him 
in confession for a notturnal illusion, and was 
punished in the offending part of his body. 

A priefl, who was a monk in our house, and told me the 
Story, confessed one day to a nocturnal illusion, and a single 
psalm was assigned him as a penance. He forgot to perform 
this small duty, and on the same day began to feel so great 
an irritation and burning, as if glowing nettles were being 
applied to his skin, that he was somewhat alarmed. Unable 
to discover any outward cause for this, he suddenly remem¬ 
bered the psalm he had forgotten to say; and inferring that this 
had been sent as a punishment for his forgetfulness, he recited 
the psalm, and found the pain gone. The penitent ought to 
be very watchful againfl forgetfulness. Liflen to another 
example. 


CHAPTER V. 

Of a Premonflratensian cler\, who went to confront 
a demoniac without having confessed some venial 
sin, and was at once branded with it by the demon. 

A certain canon in Steinvelt, of the Premonflratensian 
Order, as I was told by a canon of Munster, was a man of very 
high character, and it happened that the prior once took him 
with him to the entrance of the monastery that he might help 

128 



Of Confession 


to caft out a devil from a man possessed. But as soon as he 
appeared, the devil cried out to him through the mouth of the 
demoniac, “ I know something about that man, which takes 
away any fear of him.” Yet he was not allowed to publish 
what it was, though it was a small matter, left it should bring 
shame upon a saintly man. He, understanding well what 
was meant, went indoors again with uneasy conscience, con¬ 
fessed his fault and returned, and asked the demon if he ftill 
knew anything againft him. The demon answered, “ There 
are ftill some traces of your fault within you, because the 
bodily pain has not yet followed,” meaning the discipline of 
the rod. Again the youth went in, received the appointed 
discipline, returned, and again asked if he knew anything. 
When the devil replied, “ So far as I can tell, I have nothing 
againft you now,” the brethren were much edified. 

Novice .—It is somewhat disturbing that the enemy should 
be able to discern the marks of sin in a holy man after con¬ 
fession. 

Mon \.—God permitted this for his good. The more 
perfect a man is, the more careful he muft be to have his sin 
blotted out. The appointed discipline, which he might have 
received without delay, ought not to have been deferred, 
especially at a time when he was about to contend with the 
devil. For in the two preceding examples, of the prieft and 
of the knight’s serving man, whose confessions were not made 
duly to their own prieft, nor had any outward penance yet 
followed, the devil could not discern any traces of sin. 

Novice .—I am glad to hear what you say, that necessity 
was the reason. But I should like you to show me the differ¬ 
ence between true and false confession. 

Mon \.—You will underftand from the next examples the 
virtue of true confession and the uselessness of a confession 
that is insincere. 


tap 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter VI. 

Of a virgin who was moved by a demon, under the 
guise of man ; also of a man in whose teeth the same 
demon hurled his sins after a feigned confession ; 
and of a girl of whom he disclosed that she was no 
longer a virgin. 

Bernard, our fellow monk, told me that when Oliver the 
scholadicus of Cologne was preaching the cross in Brabant, 
and he was acting as his assistant, there was there a certain 
nun who came from Nivelle and was very proud of her vow 
of virginity. The devil, hating to see such virtue, took upon 
him the form of a man, very good looking and well dressed, 
appeared to her, and began to woo her with the words of a 
lover, offering her jewels, praising the fruitfulness of marriage 
and scoffing at the barrenness of virginity. The maiden, not 
knowing who he was, replied: “ I do not intend to marry; 
for the love of Chrid I despise and refuse any carnal nuptials.” 
And when that wanton spirit became too importunate, she, 
knowing that there were many maidens more beautiful, better 
born and richer than she, began to susped this false lover and 
said to him: “ Good sir, who are you, and from whence do 
you come, that you desire so much to marry me?” When 
he showed himself unwilling to answer, she pressed, him the 
more insistently, till at lad the demon, driven by necessity, 
confessed openly, “ I am a devil.” At this she was terrified, 
and replied, “ Why then do you demand carnal marriage, 
which is well known to be contrary to your nature?” And 
he: “ Only consent, all I want from you is your consent to 
the marriage.” To which the maiden replied : “ Absolutely 
do I refuse to give consent to you in anything;” and she drove 
him away by the sign of the holy cross. She went to the 
pried, and disclosed to him all these attacks of the devil; and 
when he had urged her to give no sort of consent to the evil 
one, she returned to her own house. But even after her con¬ 
fession the demon did not altogether leave her, though now he 
addressed her from a didancc, and vexed her by putting filth 



Of Confession 


into her plate when she was eating, and because of this sifters 
were assigned to her for her protection. Whatever house she 
entered, the demon made his presence known by speech; his 
voice indeed was heard by all, but he was visible only to the 
girl. This spirit was so malicious that he would disclose the 
sins of all that were present, and taunt them with their crimes; 
nor was any sin hidden from him, unless it had been covered 
by a true confession. He showed also other signs of his 
malice by scattering filth and broken pots full of dirt over 
those who were assembled there. Some of those present once 
asked him if he knew the Paternofter, and when he answered 
that he knew it very well, they asked him to repeat it. And 
he said, “ Our Father, which art into heaven, thy name, will 
be done also in earth, give us this day our dailies bread, but 
deliver from evil.” And when he had thus mutilated the 
prayer with omissions and barbarisms, he added, grinning : 
“ That is how you lay folk generally say your prayers.” They 
asked him also about the creed, and he said that he knew it 
excellently well, beginning thus : “ I believe that God the 
Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, exifts ” ; and 
when someone said, “You ought to say, I believe in God,” 
and he went on : “I believe God,” some learned men who 
were present, noticing what the devil said, and underftanding 
the force of the accusative, insifted that he should say, “ I 
believe in God” but nothing would persuade him to this. 

Novice .—I myself should like to know the real meaning of 
“ I believe in God.” 

Mon \.—To believe in God is to go to God in love. The 
demons as the Apoftle James saith, believe and tremble (Jam. 
ii. 19), but they do not love. They believe that God exifts, 
they believe that His words are true, but they do not believe 
in Him, because they do not love Him. But this same devil 
could not even begin the angelic salutation, although he pro¬ 
fessed to know it. 

Novice .—How comes it, seeing that the Lord’s prayer is of 
greater dignity than the Ave Maria, that he should be per¬ 
mitted to say the firft and not the second ? 

Mon \.—The Lord allowed this both for His mother’s 
honour, and to signify the supremacy of the sacrament of His 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


incarnation. Of how great virtue the salutation is, as the 
beginning of the redemption of the human race, you will learn 
more fully from what will follow. When they asked this 
demon why his voice was so hoarse, he answered : “ Because 
I am always on fire.” The same virgin said that whenever 
he appeared to her he took care that she should never see his 
back. 

Novice .—I wonder why he did this. 

Mon\. —Demons, as I have understood from another 
vision, have no hinder parts, and this is why a demon who 
appeared very frequently to a certain woman, when she asked 
him why he always walked backwards when he went away, 
replied: “We are allowed to take the human form, but 
nevertheless we have no backs.” 

Novice .—I am waiting for an example which will show me 
the difference between true and false confession. 

Mon \.—Here it is at once. There was in the neighbour¬ 
hood a man who, while very anxious to hear the aforesaid 
demon, did not dare to approach him, because of certain dis¬ 
graceful sins that he had committed, fearing that he would 
reveal them in the presence of all. Wherefore he went to the 
prieSt and confessed them, keeping in his heart all the time 
the intention of sinning again. Feeling more secure after this 
confession he went to the house, and a wonderful thing 
happened. As soon as he reached the door and looked in, the 
devil cried out: “ Ah! my friend, come in, come in; I am sure 
you have whitewashed yourself excellently well and Straight¬ 
way before them all he told those disgraceful sins, although 
they had been confessed, and put him to such confusion that 
he profoundly wished he had never come. Made miserable 
by this, and driven back upon himself by his accusing con¬ 
science, he returned to the prieSt and told him what had 
happened and repeated his confession; and because now he 
really wished to amend his life for the future, made his 
promises to God and the prieSt from his heart. Then the 
prieSt said : “ Now you may return with confidence; he will 
not confound you again.” He did return; and when he 
entered the house, some of the bystanders said to the demon, 
“ Here is your friend come back again.” He answered, 



Of Confession 


“ Who is it?” “ Why,” they said, “ he whom juft now you 
upbraided with such vile sins.” But the demon replied : “ I 
never upbraided him, neither do I know any evil of him.” 
They, who did not know that the man had confessed, were 
aftonished at the demon’s lies; and so by the power of con¬ 
fession, he escaped the brand of the deepeft confusion. In the 
same house there was a matron sitting with the others, holding 
her daughter under her cloak, as is the way of mothers; some¬ 
how or other she had provoked the demon, and he cried out: 
“ Do you think that that daughter of yours sitting under your 
cloak is a virgin? Woe to you, for you have guarded her ill.” 
When the woman said that he bed, he answered: “ Not at 
all do I lie; if you do not believe me, ask Petronilla; she will 
tell you the truth plainly enough.” For this Petronilla had 
been the girl’s confidante in her fall. When she heard this, 
the mother pushed her daughter away from her angrily, 
saying, “ Go away from me, unclean that you are; never shall 
you receive again any kindness from me.” She, conscious of 
her guilt, pretended tears, and went out crying, and protcfting 
that the devil had lied. Inspired by God, she ran to a neigh¬ 
bouring prieft, confessed her sin, and promised that never 
again would she sin that way. Then at the advice of the 
prieft, who taught her carefully what she should say, she went 
back to her mother who was ftill there, and said: “ Truly, 
my mother, you have done me a great wrong in accusing me 
so vehemently without any cause, and in driving me away so 
pitilessly because of the words of this demon who is altogether 
a liar and the father of it (John viii. 44), and she began to weep. 
The mother, moved by the words and tears of her daughter, 
said to the demon : “ Tell me, thou wicked one, why thou 
didft place so great a ftigma upon my daughter;” and he 
replied: “ Why, what evil have I said about your daughter? 
She is good and pure; I neither knew nor said any evil about 
her.” And so the girl, like the man mentioned above, was 
delivered from the suspicion of fornication and reftored to 
her mother’s favour by the benefit of confession. 

Novice .—How is it that the devil knew of the girl’s guilt 
before her confession, and named Petronilla as her confidante, 
but did not name the man who was the author of her sin ? 

133 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —I think with some confidence that he had already 
shown penitence for his sin, and this had taken away from the 
devil all knowledge of it. 

Novice. —I am glad to hear that, but I remember about the 
virgin of Nivelle, of whom you spoke juft now, and I cannot 
help wondering that a demon who is a spirit, should desire 
and seek for a carnal marriage which is againft his very 
nature. 

Mon\. —There is nothing wonderful that demons should 
make love to women, but it is indeed marvellous that they 
should actually violate them. 

Novice. —Do you remember that this ever happened? 

Mon\. —I both remember and have read such ftories, and 
that I may caution any women who perchance may read or 
hear what I am about to say, I will repeat several examples 
which have happened in our own time. And that they may 
be more impressive, I will firft give one short ftory which I 
read in The Ads of S. Bernard. 


CHAPTER VII. 

Example from The Ads of the abbot S. Bernard , 
who drove away from a woman a demon incubus. 

A certain woman, in the region of Nantes, had been for six 
years tormented with incredible luft by a certain wanton 
demon to whom she had given consent. That lascivious 
spirit had appeared to her under the form of a very comely 
knight, and often abused her invisibly when her husband was 
lying in the same bed. In the seventh year she was seized 
with terror, and when S. Bernard, the abbot of Clairvaux 
came to Nantes, the wretched woman threw herself at his feet, 
confessed her horrible passion and the mockery of the demon, 
and besought him to come to her help. He consoled her and 
told her what she muft do. After her confession the devil 
was no longer able to approach her, but nevertheless he terrified 


J 34 



Of Confession 


her with words, and threatened moSt bitterly that after the 
departure of the abbot he would come back and torment her; 
so that he, who had been her lover, became her moSt cruel 
persecutor. When she told this to the saint, he came on the 
next Sunday with two bishops and lighted candles, and with 
the support of all the faithful who were in the church, anathe¬ 
matized the adulterous spirit, forbidding him henceforth 
in the authority of ChriSt ever to approach either this woman 
or any other in the world. When those sacramental lights 
were extinguished, the whole power of the demon departed, 
and the woman, after a general confession of her sins, made 
her communion and was completely set free. This happened 
in our own times. 

Novice .—These are stupendous things. 

Mon \.—Hear also other examples very much like this, but 
Still more recent. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Of the daughter of the priefl Arnold, who was 
corrupted by a demon. 

In the parish of S. Remigius at Bonn there lived a few years 
ago a prieSt named Arnold, who had a comely daughter, of 
whom he took moft diligent care, and because of her beauty 
was so much on his guard againSt young men, and especially 
the young canons of Bonn, that whenever he left the house, 
he would shut her up in the upper room. One day the devil 
came to her under the form of a man, and began to bend her 
mind to his will, inwardly with secret suggestion, and out¬ 
wardly with flattering speech. What need of more? The 
miserable creature was persuaded and corrupted, and often 
afterwards consented to the devil to her own deStrudion. 
One day when the prieSt went to the upper room, he found 
his daughter weeping and lamenting, and at length with great 

*35 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


difficulty extracted from her the cause of her grief. She con¬ 
fessed to her father that she had been deluded and violated by 
a demon, and had good reason to grieve. How far she had 
been driven from normal sanity, how far alienated from 
ordinary decency was evident from a deplorable proof she gave 
of the depravity of her appetite. The grief-stricken father 
sent her across the Rhine, in the hope that she might benefit 
by the change, and that the obstruction of the river might 
deliver her from the demonic incubus. As soon as the girl 
was gone, the demon appeared to the prieSt and shouted at 
him: “You vile prieSt, why have you Stolen my wife from 
me ? To your own hurt you have done it and dealt him so 
violent a blow in the breaSt, that he vomited blood, and, 
within three days, was dead. Our abbot is the authority for 
these things, and also our fellow monk Gerard, formerly 
scholaSticus of Bonn, to both of whom the faCts were well 
known. 


CHAPTER IX. 

Also of a woman of Breisach, who confessed on her 
deathbed that for six years she had sinned with 
a demon. 

In the town of Breisach, near the caStle of Rheineck, some 
twelve years ago, as was told me by our brother Arnold, who 
knew all the circumstances at the time, there was a woman 
who had been corrupted by a demon in the way related above. 
She was sitting one day in her shop, when she began to feel 
a failure of the heart, and fearing that death was upon her, 
she begged that a prieSt might quickly be sent for. Even 
while she was telling him of the horrible mockery of the 
demon under which she had suffered for seven years, in the 
midSt of her confession speech failed her, and her soul passed. 
Though she had been harassed with incredible luSt by the 

x 3 6 



Of Confession 


author of luff, she had never been willing to tell anyone, or 
perhaps had never dared, or, as is Still more likely, had found 
pleasure in his wickedness. 

Novice .—If demons are permitted to do such things, it is 
vital that women should be moil careful not to afford them 
any occasion or make it possible by any consent. 

Mon \.—Not only muff women be on their guard againft 
them, but also men, because as demons in the form of men 
mock and corrupt women, as has been shown, so also in the 
form of women, do they seduce and deceive men. If you 
read Vitaspatrum, you will find there how certain saintly men 
were deluded, dragged down and destroyed by the phantoms 
of women. I will also give you other examples, by which 
you will see how men have been mocked by demons under the 
form of women. 


CHAPTER X. 

Of John, ScholaSlicus of Priim, who is said to have 
lain with a demon. 

There was a scholaflicus of Prtim, named John, who was 
a very learned man. but of a light and wanton character. 
Now according to common report, and as I have also heard 
from the abbot of that monastery, a certain woman had 
promised to come to him on a certain night. On the 
appointed night, she indeed failed to come, but a devil, in her 
likeness and with her voice, entered the clerk’s bed; and he 
believing it to be the woman who was well known to him, 
lay with the devil. Rising early, he urged the demon, whom 
he thought a woman, to go, when he said, “ with whom do 
you think you have been lying to-night?” When he replied, 
“ with such and such a woman,” the demon answered, “ No 
indeed, but with the devil.” To this John, who was a strange 
man, replied with a ffrange word, which modefty forbids me 
to repeat, scoffing at the devil, and no whit disturbed. 


B7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XL 

Of Henry, a citizen of Soefl, who being carried off 
by a demon and deposited in a field, went out of 
his mind. 

In the city of SoeSt was a man named Henry, whose sur¬ 
name was Gemma; his business was that of a wine-seller, and 
he had a shop some little distance from the house where he 
lived. One night when he was returning from the shop 
rather late according to his custom, and was hastening home 
with the money received for the wine, he saw the form of a 
woman in white robe Standing in the place where the citizens 
were wont to meet for discussion. He thought no evil of 
her; but when he came to the place, she caught him by the 
cloak and said : “ My dear, I have been waiting here a long 
time for you; you ought to love me.” He shook his cloak 
free of her hand, and said: “ Leave me alone; I will have 
nothing to do with you, I am going home to my wife ”; but 
she only insisted the more, urging him to go with her. When 
she found her words of no avail, she took him in her arms, 
and holding him faSt, she lifted him into the air, carried him 
beyond the monastery of St. Patroclus, which is high upon 
the hill, and put him down in a meadow and there left him, 
out of his mind with terror. After an hour, he began to 
recover his Strength, and with much difficulty made his way 
to his house, which lay near the monastery, crawling upon 
hands and knees. When, at his knock, the family got up 
and sought for a light, he cried out, “ Do not bring a light, 
I cannot bear to see it.” They brought him in and laid him 
upon his bed, for he was very feeble, both in body and mind. 
For the next three nights, the demon knocked at the door in 
the darkest hours, and Henry cried out: “ I know that he has 
come for me, it is for me that he is knocking.” He lived 
only a year longer, weak in body and wandering in mind. 
This was told me by our brother, Theodoric of SoeSt, who said 
that it was well known in his town, where his brother is Still 
living and is a canon of the church of S. Patroclus. 

138 



Of Confession 


Novice.—li it is possible for demons to put on human 
bodies and associate with men and women, as has now been 
shown by various examples, I wonder if it is possible for them 
to become parents? 

Mon\. —I know nothing which can answer this question 
of yours, but I will tell you what I have read in ancient 
histories. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Of the Huns and of Merlin, and what is the truth 
about the humanity of the children of incubi. 

When the Goths migrated from Asia into Europe, as we 
read in their history, they drove out from their company all 
their ill-formed women, fearing that they might bear ill- 
formed children, and so injure the manliness of the Gothic 
race. When these women were thruSt out of the camp, and 
were wandering in the woods, incubus demons came to them, 
and from them begat sons and daughters, from whom was 
derived the hardy race of the Huns. We read also that 
Merlin, the prophet of the Britons, was born from an incubus 
demon and a nun; and even the kings now ruling in Britain, 
which we call England, are said to be descended from a 
phantom mother. Yet Merlin was a reasonable man and a 
Chriftian, who foretold many future events which are day by 
day being fulfilled. 

Novice.— If men can only be conceived and born from both 
parents, how can they be called men, who draw their origin 
partly from man and partly from demon? Will one who is 
not truly of human nature rise again at the Judgment? 

Mon\. —I will tell you what I have heard about this 
question from a very learned man; he says that demons colled! 
all waSted human seed, and from it fashion for themselves 
human bodies, both of men and women, in which they become 


*39 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


tangible and visible to men. And so the authorities say that 
there is true human nature in those that are born from them, 
and that they will rise again at the Judgment as being truly 
men and women. But let that be enough on this subject; let 
us now go back to confession, from which we have digressed a 
little on the occasion of your question. 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Of Aleidis, a nun of Langwaden, who hy confession 
was delivered from the visible attacks of a demon. 

In the city of Bonn, in the diocese of Cologne, there was a 
prieSf, named Peter, the vicar of the church; and he, by some 
judgment of God, hanged himself on the door of his room. 
His concubine, whose name was Aleidis, was so terrified by 
his dreadful death, that she left the world and took the 
religious dress in a convent called Langwaden. One day 
when she was looking out of the dormitory window, she 
watched a youth, or rather a demon in the form of a youth, 
Standing near a well close to the dormitory wall; who, when 
he caught sight of her, put one foot on the railing which sur¬ 
rounded the wall, and throwing out the other as if he were 
flying, placed it on the ledge of the window itself. Then he 
Stretched out his hand, and tried to seize her by the hair, but 
she fell back terrified, cried out, and almoSt fainted. At her 
cry the siSters ran up, soothed her and laid her upon the bed. 
When they had gone away and she had a little regained her 
breath, and was lying alone, the demon again appeared, and 
began to woo her with loverlike words. But when she, 
realising now that he was an evil spirit, refused to have any¬ 
thing to do with him, he said: “ Kind Aleidis, do not speak 
like that; only consent to me and I will give you a husband 
who shall be well born, honourable and upright. Why 
should you torture yourself with hunger in this miserable place, 


140 



Of Confession 


and kill yourself before your time with watchings and many 
other similar discomforts. Go back to the world and enjoy 
the pleasures which God has created for man; you shall want 
for nothing under my protection.” She answered : “ I repent 
with all my heart that I have liftened to you so long, leave 
me, for I will never consent.” The demon hurled at her a 
loathsome insult and then disappeared. Now since this vile 
spirit continued to show himself mofl hoftile to her by day and 
by night, some of the sifters persuaded her to keep holy water 
always at hand with which to sprinkle him when he came; and 
others urged her to use incense if the water failed to terrify 
him. Both these things she tried, but little did they profit 
her. For as often as he saw her make the sign of the cross 
againft him, or sprinkle holy water at him, or burn incense, 
he vanished indeed for a little, but very soon returned. Then 
one of the other sifters, who was older and wiser, advised her 
to let the devil come near her, and then with a loud voice to 
hurl the angelic salutation at him. And when she did this, 
the devil fled, as if he had been pierced by an arrow or swept 
away by a whirlwind, and from that time never presumed to 
approach her again. 

Novice .—Till now I wondered why the devil could not 
say or even begin the angelic salutation, as I remember that 
you told me above in the sixth chapter. 

Mon \.—I was juft thinking of that very passage. Certainly 
the nun, now that she was armed with so effective a weapon, 
felt no longer any fear when she saw the form or heard the 
voice of the demon. One day when talking over these 
things with a certain religious, he advised her as follows: 
“ Make your general confession to the prior, simply, fully 
and faithfully, as far as your memory holds, and you will be 
completely delivered from any further annoyance from 
demons.” This advice pleased her much, and she went at 
once to the prior, and begged him to appoint time and place 
for hearing her confession. In the morning after Matins and 
due preparation, she haftened to the appointed place, which 
was the chapel adjoining the convent, where the prior awaited 
her. And behold, the demon met her as she was hurrying 
along the path, and said: “ Aleidis, where are you going ? 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Whither are you hastening?” She replied : “ I am going to 
put both you and myself to confusion.” Then the demon : 
“ O Aleidis, don’t go, don’t go ; turn back, turn back.” She 
said : “ Often have you put me to confusion; now I am going 
to overwhelm you with the same. I will not go back.” When 
he found he could not induce her to return, either by threats 
or blandishments, he followed her to the chapel, hovering 
over her like a kite. But as soon as she knelt down in the 
presence of the prior and began her confession, the demon 
vanished, crying and shrieking, and never from that moment 
was seen or heard by her again. You have here a plain proof 
of the great value of an honeft confession. All this was told 
me by Dom Herman, the abbot of Marienftatt; who, having 
heard by common report about this woman, who had been 
well known to him when he was a canon of Bonn, went him¬ 
self to the convent, and heard it all from her own lips, juft 
as I have told you. 

Novice. —If confession had not such mighty force, 
assuredly it would not cause the demons so great diftress. 

Mon\. —Another example occurs to me, which will clearly 
show how grievously they are diftressed when we confess our 
sins. What I am going to tell you happened after my 
conversion, and was told me by Dom Charles, at one time our 
prior, and at that time abbot of Villers; but unfortunately I 
have forgotten the names of the person and place. This is 
what he said. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Of a priefl deceived by the devil’s prophecy of his 
death, and delivered by confession. 

There is a certain prieft (he is ftill living) very religious 
and very dear to many for the excellence of his life, who was 
vicar of a parish in our neighbourhood. The crafty devil 


142 



Of Confession 


grudged him his favour with God and man, but would not 
moleSt him with open temptations, because he hoped to bend 
him to his will more completely under an appearance of good. 
He, the very minister of darkness, transformed himself into 
an angel of light, and came thus to the prieft, and said: 
“ Friend of God, I am sent to tell you things that are yet to 
come. Prepare yourself, for you will die within the year.” 
Now the prieSt, having no suspicion that it was an evil angel, 
but believing that it would happen as he had foretold, began 
to prepare himself diligently as if for death, to cleanse his 
conscience by confession, and to discipline his body with fac¬ 
ings, watchings and assiduous prayers, and to distribute to the 
poor his income and all his small possessions. Since many 
asked him why he was dispersing his goods so unwisely, he 
told the reason to one of them only, as a confidential secret, 
saying: “ The angel of the Lord has revealed to me that I 
shall die within the year.” But this man, unable to keep 
the secret, told it to another intimate friend, and so through 
him it came to the knowledge of the whole parish. When 
the year was over, and the prieSt Still alive, it was made plain 
that the devil had been a false prophet. And because all 
things tuor\ together for good (Rom. viii. 28), for God’s ele< 5 t, 
the holy man found advantage in the very point in which he 
had been deceived by the devil; for being made much ashamed 
by this crafty deceit because it had come to the ears of so many 
people, and having no longer anything to live upon, he left 
the world and his parish and took the vows in a house of our 
Order, whose name I have forgotten. During his noviciate, 
the devil came to him again and tried to excuse his former 
deceit by such words as these : “ Be not troubled, O man of 
God, because you have not died, as I foretold, since God in 
His providence has prolonged your life that many may be 
edified; I am sent by Him to help, inStrudt and guard you.” 
And he believed him. The devil was constantly coming to him, 
and as he noticed afterwards, was always exhorting him to such 
things as were for his ease. When sometimes fervent devotion 
prompted him to make longer prayers, or to keep more vigils, 
or to labour harder with his hands, he would argue with 
him saying : “ Discretion is the mother of the virtues; you 


r 43 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


have a long life before you now, and therefore you ought 
to spare yourself that you may the longer serve God.” Or 
when he was trying to raise a somewhat heavy Stone, the devil 
would say again : “ That Stone is too big, take this inStead.” 
When he became a monk, the devil said to him: “ Ask the 
prior to allow you to go to tasks where you will be alone, that 
you may the more freely enjoy my conversation, and I yours;” 
and the prior gave him leave when he was told the reason. 
At laSt the devil, wishing to reap the fruits of his long-drawn- 
out guile, came to the monk’s bed at the dead of night, woke 
him up and said : ** Get up, the Lord wills to reward your long 
toil. Go to the private chamber and hang yourself on the beam 
there with your girdle, that so He may welcome you as a 
martyr.” When he heard this, the monk was terror-Stricken, 
and spat at the devil, and cried out: “ Leave me, Satan, leave 
me; now I know who you are;” and making the sign of the 
cross, he put him to flight. You see how great is the Divine 
mercy that is always about us ; God allowed the devil, under 
the guise of a good spirit to discipline His servant with 
certain subtle suggestions, although they were meant treacher¬ 
ously ; but He did not allow him to succeed in this gross 
proposal, leSt the simple man should be deceived, and run 
to meet eternal ruin. He rose at once, went to the bed of 
the sleeping Prior and roused him, making the sign that he 
wished to make his confession. The Prior suggested that he 
should wait till the morning, but as the other would not con¬ 
sent to this, he got up and went with him to the Chapter 
house. Immediately the monk proStrated himself at his feet 
and confessed how he had been deceived for a long time by 
the devil under the form of an angel, and how he had dis¬ 
covered him by the advice that he gave that he should hang 
himself ; he confessed also his other sins. When the Prior 
had given him some penance and warned him to be more 
cautious for the future, he went back to his bed. Now the 
monk was obliged to go up to a private chamber, and while 
there he saw the devil, exasperated by his confession, Standing 
before him with a bow at full Stretch, and an arrow in posi¬ 
tion, and the evil one cried with a loud voice, “ To your 
own hurt have you put me to confusion ; lo, now I will slay 


144 



Of Confession 


you.” He answered, “ Depart from me, thou accursed, for 
now I fear thee no longer ; ” and at the sign of the cross the 
devil vanished ; and so, by the virtue of confession, the monk 
was delivered and saw the demon no more. 

Novice. —Why is it that the demon was unable to injure 
this pries!, whereas he had power so cruelly to slay Arnold, 
the vicar of S. Remigius, about whom you told me ? 

Mon\. —He was able to corrupt the daughter of that vicar, 
but could not harm the virgin of Nivelle. It was clearly not 
without cause that the devil received so much power againSl 
both father and daughter. 

Novice.— If demons are so much troubled when we confess 
our sins, I think they mufl rejoice the more when we cover 
them with silence. 

Monl(. —That is molt certain. You will see it Still more 
plainly shown in the tenth chapter of the seventh book, 
where by the grace of the Blessed Mother of God, the tongues 
of certain folk were unlocked for confession; for that book will 
be wholly consecrated to the honour of the Blessed Virgin. 

Novice. —From what you have said, I understand clearly 
that confession is the medicine of the soul ; now I should like 
to know if the body also gains health by its means in any way. 

Mon\. —It is the medicine of the whole man ; for as it 
delivers the soul of the sinner from the pains of hell, so some¬ 
times it delivers his body from temporal pains. 

Novice. —I think it would be very useful for me to hear 
examples of this ; because there are many who, if they knew 
that confession brought bodily relief, would be more ready 
to make use of it. 

Monl j.—Do you not remember what great things Dom 
Walter the Abbot of Villers told us about confession, when 
he came from the Diet of Frankfort, 1 in which the son of 
Frederick, king of the Romans, was elected to the throne? 

Novice. —Well indeed do I remember, but since the 
human memory is apt to be treacherous, I would gladly hear 
again what 1 have already heard once, especially when they 
are truths necessary to salvation. 

Mon/{. —“ When I was at Frankfort,” he said, “ and was 

1 In 1220. 


*45 


10 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


talking with Mailer Conrad, the Dean of Speyer, I said to 
him in the course of our conversation: ‘ There are things 1 
have learned about confession which you, as preachers, ought 
to know ’ ” (for he was preaching the cross at that time) and 
he begged me to repeat them to him. This was the tenor 
of them. 


CHAPTER XV. 

Of a cler\ of Arras and his sifter, and how the latter 
was delivered from the flames by confession, when 
both of them had been concerned in the death of a 
silversmith. 

A few years ago there lived at Arras a certain clerk, a 
native of the place, and brought up there in comfort from 
his infancy, and mixing with honourable clerks. His 
mother’s income began to fail, and as he had no clerical 
Stipend he was ashamed to continue living with her. Im¬ 
pelled by an evil spirit, he went with treacherous intention 
to the house of a wealthy silversmith and said to him: “ A 
certain rich merchant has come to my house, and wishes to 
buy cups and goblets of silver, and other small vessels or 
ornaments made of silver or gold. If you care to sell any 
thing of this sort, put them in a sack, and come to my house 
at such an hour, alone, because he wishes the transaftion to 
be kept secret.” The silversmith, having no suspicion of a 
clerk who was well known to him, did as he was asked, but 
nevertheless told his servants where he was going. When 
the clerk saw him coming alone, he hid behind the door, 
and as he entered, clove his skull with an axe, and killed 
him. Then with the help of his sifter, a young girl who 
lived with him, he cut up the corpse limb by limb, and threw 
the pieces into the sewer. But when it grew late and the 
jeweller did not return home, some of his household went 

146 



Of Confession 


to the clerk’s house and asked where their mailer was ; and 
both of them answered that he had not been there. The 
others were not satisfied with this reply, and looking round 
suspiciously, they discovered traces of blood, and immed¬ 
iately charged them with murder. When the officers came 
and found not only traces of bloodshed but also the sack of 
treasure, the guilty pair could no longer make any pretence 
of denial; ana sentence was quickly passed that they should 
both be burnt to death. What need of more? On the way 
to their punishment, the girl said to her brother : “ Brother, 
1 am now being taken to death on your account, for I should 
never have helped in this murder except to try and conceal 
your crime. Now however as we cannot escape immediate 
death, let us make confession of the crime, that we may at 
leafl escape the death eternal." The clerk, angered by these 
words, because he was utterly desperate, answered : “ I will 
not do it; how could so late a confession be of any use to 
me? ” And finding her brother hardened, the girl asked 
for a priefl, and confessed her crime to him with much con¬ 
trition. Then both were bound to one flake, and great 
quantities of fuel were piled around them. Wonderful 
power of confession, wonderful mercy of the Saviour ! the 
flames at once devoured the despairing clerk, but the fire 
neither touched nor injured nor gave any pain to the girl. 
Only her chains were burnt, as we read of the Three Children, 
so that she could walk freely ; nor did she feel the heat of 
the flames otherwise than as the breathing of a dewladen 
wind. The judges, seeing so great a miracle, decreed the 
girl to be innocent, and ordered her to be set free ; and so 
by her confession she escaped the burning of that fire. 

Novice .—What do you think about that clerk? 

Monk ..—Exatftly as the despairing murderer Hildebrand 
in the sixth chapter of the preceding book judged about him¬ 
self: “I am eternally damned,” he said, “and appointed 
to everlafling flames chiefly because of my despair. If I had 
shown penitence by confessing my sin, I should have escaped 
eternal punishment through that which was temporal.” The 
same abbot told us of another miracle in which the virtue of 
confession was Shill more plainly shown ; as follows: 


M7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter XVI. 

Of heretics who were examined and convided by the 
trial of white hot iron at Cambrai, one of whom was 
saved by the help of confession. 

In the cathedral city of Cambrai within the laft five years 
several heretics were arrefted, who all denied their heresy 
through fear of death. A clerk was sent by the bishop to 
examine by the trial of white hot iron, those who denied 
and to sentence as heretics all those who were burnt. They 
were all examined and the iron burnt them all. When they 
were being taken to their punishment, one of them, a man 
of noble birth, was kept back by the clerk in the hope that 
he might perhaps be brought to penitence. And he said to 
him, “ You are not one of the common herd, and I am filled 
with pity for you, and with compassion for your soul. 
I beg and beseech you to return to your senses after 
so much wandering, and come back from error to the truth, 
that you may not pass through temporal death to find the 
death everlasting.” He answered, “ I have learnt by exper¬ 
ience that I was wrong ; if so late a penitence could profit 
me, I would willingly make my confession.” The other 
replied that true penitence could never be too late and sent 
for a prieSt. The man confessed his error, promising with 
his whole heart that he would give satisfaction to God, if 
his life were spared. That the merciful Lord might show 
the power of confession, no sooner did the penitent begin to 
confess his sins that the burn in his hand began gradually 
to shrink, and decreased in proportion as the confession pro¬ 
ceeded, as the clerk saw with his own eyes. When half the 
confession was completed, half the wound was healed, but 
when the whole was finished, the virtue of confession 
removed the whole burn both in pain and appearance, and 
the hand recovered its former health. The officer came to 
take the man to the fire, but the clerk asked him why he had 
come. “ That he may burn,” he said, “ because his hand 
was burnt in the examination.” Then the clerk, showing 

148 



Of Confession 


the man’s hand perfectly whole, set him free, while the others 
were consumed in the flames. When Master Conrad heard 
this, he said to the abbot, “ I too will tell you a similar Story, 
which I remember happened a few years ago in Argentina. 


CHAPTER XVII. 

Also of ten heretics in Argentina, who were 
examined and burnt, one of whom, after he had 
been healed by confession and set free, was led 
aSlray again by his wife, and condemned to the re¬ 
kindled fire. 

Ten heretics were arrefted in Argentina, that is Strasburg. 
They denied their heresy, but were convifted by the trial of 
white hot iron, and were condemned to be burnt. On the 
appointed day, when they were being taken to the Slake, an 
officer said to one of them: “ Miserable man, you are con¬ 
demned to death, but show penitence even now by confessing 
your sins, left, after the burning of your body, which is but 
momentary, the fire of hell should burn your soul for ever.” 
When the other said: “ I know well that I was wrong, but 
I fear that penitence in such an extremity would not be accep¬ 
table to God ; ” he replied : “ Only confess from your heart, 
God is merciful, and will receive the penitent.” Then a 
wonderful thing happened ; as soon as the man confessed 
his heresy, his hand became completely whole again. Since 
his confession had occupied some little time, the officer came 
to hurry him to the ftake, but the prieft said “ It is not right 
that an innocent man should be unjuftly condemned." And 
as no trace of the burn could be found in his hand, he was 
set free. Now this man had a wife who lived a little way 
out of the city, and was altogether ignorant of what had 
happened ; and when he came to her rejoicing and said: 
“ Blessed be God, for He has delivered me this day from the 


149 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


death both of body and soul ; ” and went on to tell her of 
all that had taken place, she replied : “ O mo£t unhappy one, 
what have you done, what have you done? Why have you 
deserted our sound and holy faith for a momentary pain ? you 
ought rather to have suffered your body to be burnt a hundred 
times, if that were possible, than once to abjure so well proved 
a faith. But alas ! who is safe from the wiles of the ser¬ 
pent? ” Then he, forgetful of the mercies that had been 
shown him from heaven, forgetful of so evident a miracle, 
fell in with the advice of his wife, and returned to the old 
heresy. But God, not unmindful of punishment for such 
base ingratitude, smote both in the hand ; the wound of the 
burning was restored to the hand of the heretic, and his wife, 
because she had been the means of renewing his heresy, was 
made a sharer in the renewal of his pain. So violent was 
the burning that it penetrated even to the very bones of their 
hands. And since in that place they did not dare to utter the 
cries which were drawn from them by the violence of their 
pains, they fled into the neighbouring wood, howling there 
like wolves. What need of more words? Information was 
given, they were brought back to the city, and together were 
placed in the fire, which had not wholly died down, and there 
were reduced to ashes. 

Novice. —Only justice was shown to these sinners. 

Mon —Those who fight after an honeft confession earn 
vidory and freedom from condemnation. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

Of a \night who because of his confession won a 
duel in the presence of the Emperor Henry. 

When the Emperor Henry , 1 father of the present Fred¬ 
erick, la£t entered Lombardy, a certain castellan was accused 

1 Henry VI, 1190-1197. 

150 



Of Confession 


before him by the Lombards of rapine and many other out¬ 
rages. The accusers brought with them a very Strong pugi- 
liSf, of gigantic size, who challenged him to single combat. 
The Emperor was unwilling to deny them justice, and ordered 
the knight to appear. When that giant challenged him to 
the combat according to civil law, the knight’s brother fell 
down at the Emperor’s feet, and with many tears obtained 
the boon of being allowed to fight on behalf of his dearly loved 
brother. He prepared himself moft carefully by contrition, 
confession and prayer, and placed all his hope upon ChriSf, 
whose cross he wore on dress, shield and hand, as a defence 
in the fight ; for he was a man more graceful than Strong. 
The pugiliSl, terrible to see and looking like a second Goliath, 
rushed upon him and Struck him so mighty a blow upon the 
shield, that you would have thought that it thundered. But 
the knight, returning blow for blow, Struck his hand, before 
he could withdraw it, with so much force that he could not 
raise again his drooping club ; and then Striking the pugilist 
with redoubled blows, he conquered the unconquerable, 
through the virtue of confession. Our Brother Henry, who 
was present, told me that the pugiliSt broke out into these 
words, shouting like a bellowing ox : “ Woe is me ! how can 
1 be so vilely put to confusion by a pigmy like this ! ” And 
thus by the humble confession of his brother a man worthy 
of death escaped death and won the vidtory. That confession 
also brings pardon to those who ought to be condemned the 
following example will show. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of a thief at Cologne, who escaped death by the 
benefit of confession. 

About the time that I was a Student, there was a thief who 
was kept in prison before the Gate of Mars in Cologne. A 
prieSt named EuSface, a man of very exemplary life, who was 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


in charge of the chapel of that Gate, visited him, heard his 
confession, and helped him with his alms ; and, as the same 
priest told me himself, used often of set purpose to send him 
his own cup from his own table. The gaolers saw all these 
things and were astonished ; and when they informed the 
judges of the honour shown by the prieSt to such a thief, they 
thought the man muSt be innocent, and set him at liberty. 

Novice. —Why do not benefits of this kind come to all 
through confession? 

Mon\. —It would not be expedient, because it would be an 
occasion of sin to many. God wills that miracles should 
sometimes take place through confession, that He may show 
by outward signs of how great value it is, as a medicine to 
the soul. His will is that in moft cases the guilty man should 
be punished after confession that he may escape punishment 
in the future, because He does not punish twice for the same 
fault (Nahum i. 12). Of this I will tell you a manifest 
example, which I heard from an abbot of our Order. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Also of a thief who received the sentence of death 
from the bishop of Liege, because of a verse in the 
106th Psalm. 

In the city of Liege there was a bishop, a holy and God¬ 
fearing man. One day in Lent when he was sitting alone 
in his chapel, and reading the Psalter, he came to this 
place in the 106th psalm, Who can express the noble ads of 
the Lord, or show forth all His praise? An officer of his 
court came in and interrupted his devotions, saying: “ Sir, 
what are your orders with regard to that criminal? ” The 
bishop, moved with pity, answered: “ Spare the poor fellow 
out of resped for the sacred season of Lent.” As the officer 
was going away to set the guilty man free, the bishop turned 


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Of Confession 


back his eyes to the interrupted psalm, and forthwith they 
fell upon the next verse: Blessed are they that always \eep 
judgment: and do righteousness. The bishop, terrified by 
this message as if he had been reproved and inftrufted by an 
answer from heaven, as indeed was the case, called back the 
officer and said: “ Examine the case of this man carefully, 
and judge him according to justice. ” Thus the guilty man 
loft his life owing to that inspired verse. It may be that he 
died contrite, and if he had lived longer, would only have 
become worse and would have incurred eternal death ; as 
we said above about the Strasburg heretic, who through con¬ 
fession had been healed and afterwards fell back into error. 

Novice. —It is a great comfort to me to hear this. 

Mon\. —Confession is the beft remedy in danger even 
upon the broad sea. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

Of pilgrims who were in great danger on the sea 
because of the sins of one man, but were delivered 
by his confession. 

Mafter John of Xanten, when he was preaching the cross 
in the churches, told the people that some pilgrims who were 
once crossing the sea to the help of the Holy Land, were con¬ 
fronted in mid-ocean by a ftorm so violent that the ship itself 
was covered with the waves. The wind roared, rough waves 
beset them, the braveft men were ftaggered, and all hope for¬ 
sook the sailors. Seeing death before their eyes, they began 
one by one, each to his neighbour, to make confession of their 
sins ; and rightly, for the Lord had raised up this tempeft 
because of the sins of one man. For there was in that ship 
a man moft wretched and moft foul, whose sins were so 
grievous, so shameful, so revolting, both in number and in 
kind, that not even the sea itself could endure their weight. 


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TheJ Dialogue on Miracles 

As it is the habit of nature to cad forth any poison from the 
body, how can it quietly endure the presence of such spiritual 
poison as sins againd its Creator? That sinner, fearing both 
for his life and soul, and realising that all the reft were in 
danger because of him, Stood up and said : “ Listen, brothers, 
listen. If this Storm has arisen on account of sin, I am the cause 
of all the danger, and I beg you to hear my confession.” 
Whereupon in a general silence he began to pour forth in a 
loud voice so terrible a flood of poison as to disguSt the moSt 
hardened human ear. But see the wonders of God’s mercy ; 
as soon as he had caSt forth by confession that load of iniquity, 
the raging sea grew quiet and there was a great calm, so that 
all men marvelled. Wonder followed wonder ; dire< 5 tly the 
ship came to land, God wiped out from the memory of each 
all the sins they had heard. So long indeed as they were 
confined to the ship, He allowed the sinner to be abashed in 
their presence, but as soon as they disembarked, He shed 
oblivion over them, that they should not make known his 
sins or upbraid him. They remembered well enough that 
they had been in great danger on the sea and that the man 
had confessed something, but they were altogether ignorant 
of what he had said ; a fad: which he found out for himself 
by experience. 

Novice .—That is a beautiful Story : yet it seems a marvel¬ 
lous thing that God should afflid so great a number of men 
for the sins of one. 

Mon \.—We read in the Scriptures that the sea was 
troubled and his shipmates brought into great peril because 
of the disobedience of Jonah, and that when he was thrown 
overboard the sea became calm. For, as sometimes God 
afflids for a reason a number of people for the sin of one, so 
also does He often spare many for the righteousness of one. 
Of this there are many examples. 

Novice .—I know that notning happens without the juft 
judgment of God ; but surely it is the height of madness for 
a man, who knows himself to be in mortal sin, to dare to run 
into danger. 

Mon \.—Those who know the healing virtue of confession 
ought not for a single day to remain in their sins, nor to delay 


*54 



Of Confession 


their confession unless it is impossible to find a confessor. 
Hear what a certain bishop said of this ; it is a saying both 
useful and solemn, well worthy to be remembered. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of an English bishop, who at the approach of 
death, refused to confess for the sa\e of example. 

I learnt from an abbot this Story of an English bishop, who 
died lately ; he was of the PremonSfratensian Order, a good 
man and of deep piety. When he was now at the point of 
death, and did not ask for a confessor, his chaplains said to 
him : “ Sir, you are very ill ; will you not make your con¬ 
fession?’’ The bishop replied: "No, thank you.” When 
they continued to urge it, he added: “ Do you suppose, you 
foolish ones, that I should put off my confession to a time like 
this? ” They said again: “But you used to share in the 
king’s counsels and he answered: “ I was in the presence 
of the king only as Chris! was in the presence of Pilate.” 
This is what that saintly bishop said and did for an example 
to others. Daily had he been accustomed to cleanse his con¬ 
science, and not to put off his confession from day to day as 
many do. Even after his death he was iliuftrious for many 
miracles. 

Novice. —As I gather from the words of this bishop, it is 
not right even for saintly men to postpone confession. 

Mon\.— This postponement of confession recalls to my 
mind a case which happened in our midst laft year. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of one of our monies, who when attually dying 
made full confession for the firfl time. 

One of our elders, whose name I will not give, had the 
habit, as many others have, of frequently renewing his con¬ 
fession, so that the abbot thought it was general, because he 
used to relate his sins from boyhood up to old age. He had 
been ill for some time before his death, but suddenly he 
collapsed and loft all power of speech. We all ran to his 
aid, and anointed him with the holy oil. The lord abbot came 
to him on, I think, the following day, and at his coming God’s 
mercy unloosed the tongue of the dying man, and he began 
the confession of certain mortal sins committed before his 
conversion, sins which he had never confessed to him before. 
Terrified, the abbot asked him if he had ever before confessed 
these sins. “ Yes,” he said, “ I have told them to other 
abbots.” He had had three abbots before this one, and as 
our abbot told us, this was the reason why the Lord, who had 
regard to his long life of toil, opened his mouth that his con¬ 
fession might be complete. 

Novice. —If he had confessed these mortal sins to other 
abbots, was it for shame that he did not confess them in the 
same way to the laft abbot? 

Monf{. —As I said in the firft chapter of this book; as a 
confession ought to be unvarnished, and made as a matter of 
duty, so it ought also to be complete, that is, not diftributed 
among several confessors. What profit is it, as Bede says in 
his commentary upon Luke, if the whole city be guarded and 
one opening left through which the enemy can enter ? 
Indeed I truft that he had made complete confession to one 
of the abbots, because he was a wise man, and we saw in him 
many virtues. 

Novice. —If the penitent should sin with his confessor, 
would it be possible to confess those sins to him to any pur¬ 
pose? 

Mon\. —Such a confession would be nothing, because in 
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Of Confession 


it there would be no shame nor would there be any sins dis¬ 
closed. For an example and to answer your question, I will 
tell you of a certain pitable case which took place a few years 
ago, which the Lord Abbot of Citeaux related in place of a 
sermon to all the abbots in General Chapter, and asked that 
each would tell it to his monks as a warning. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Of a confessor who sinned in the company of a 
young mon\, and after death exhorted him to 
confession. 

He said that in a certain monastery there had died lately 
a prieSt, upon whom his abbot, because of his exemplary life, 
had laid the burden of hearing the confessions of his 
Brethren ; but he did not tell us the name of either the mon¬ 
astery or the individual. There was in the same house a 
young monk who came to him frequently, with whom, at 
the instigation of the devil, and with the consent of human 
frailty, this confessor sinned once, but only once. As soon 
as it was done, he began to lament and weep bitterly, and said 
to the younger man : “ We have sinned grievously ; we can¬ 
not for very shame confess this sin to others ; but I think that 
you had better make confession to me, and I to you, and each 
receive penance from the other.” To this proposal the other 
agreed, and they confessed their sin in turn, and each received 
from the other a much severer penance than would have been 
imposed by the abbot or any other confessor. Soon after the 
prieff fell ill, even to death, and when he was very near his 
end, in fear of hell he disclosed the sin of both, but did not 
reveal the name of his partner. After his death, the abbot 
was greatly digressed because he could not discover the other 
sinner. Nevertheless he said to himself: “ He will come to 
confess to me, whoever he is.” Meanwhile the dead man 


157 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


appeared in broad daylight to the young monk when he was 
alone, ghastly in face, and clad in ragged gown. When he 
saw him, he recognised him at once, and shrank away in 
terror. But the apparition said : “ Stay, do not be afraid, for 
I have come for your sake, that I may tell you how I fare.” 
The youth, comforted and reassurred by his words, asked 
him whence he came and what he sought, and he replied: 
“ I am suffering the greatest pains because of that sin which 
I committed with you ; for I am tormented by a fiery chain 
which encircles my body, and holds me suspended in the air. 
That confession that we made to each other profited me 
nothing, because it was, as a confession, juft nothing ; and 
I should have been eternally damned if I had not made my 
fault known at the laft.” And when the youth said to him : 
‘‘Is there anything which could possibly help you?” he 
replied: “ If you will confess your sin simply and fully, you 
will help me much ; but if not, eternal punishment is reserved 
for you ; ” and so vanished. The youth, terrified by this 
vision, would have made his confession at once, but could 
not because of the absence of the abbot. But this inevitable 
delay gave time for his fear to die down and his reludance to 
increase, and when the abbot returned, shame had so far 
regained the upper hand, that he made no confession to him. 
But the abbot had not forgotten the fault confessed to him, 
and when the daily expefted penitent did not come, he 
pondered deeply how he might catch and save him who, to 
nis own hurt, was lying hidden ; and he gave orders to the 
whole convent, both priefts and those of inferior rank, 
whether whole or sick, that on a certain feftival all should 
communicate at the high altar ; for he thought that the man 
who was guilty of that fault would surely not dare to 
approach. So he sat by the altar and watched the faces of 
each. Now the young monk, feeling sure that this was done 
on his account, and fearing to be discovered if he held back, 
came with the others ; but when he drew near to the altar, 
so great a horror swept over him, so great a fear fell upon 
him, that, presumptuous as he was, he could not go on, and 
was soon compelled to withdraw. Then he came to the 
abbot, and made him the sign that he wished to confess ; 

158 



Of Confession 


and he, rejoicing and exulting, said to himself: “ Ah, we 
have surely caught the quarry, we have found the prey ; for 
this is he ; ” and he rose up and went with him into the 
Chapter house. There the youth threw himself at his feet, 
confessed his sin, recounted the vision, and received his 
penance, and so, laid bare by the prudence of the physician, 
the wound of the foolish sick man was healed. These things 
were related to us by Dom Gevard our abbot, when he came 
back from the General Chapter. 

Novice .—It is a great gift of God that dead men should 
thus exhort the living to confession. 

Mon \.—So great a benefit is confession that even the 
spirits of the dead make use of it ; often have I heard that the 
dead have appeared in dreams to the living, and have con¬ 
fessed the sins for which they were held in pains, and have 
truly shown by what works of mercy they could be delivered ; 
and this has been proved afterwards by unmistakable signs. 
For like consorts with like, and the body of a sleeper is not 
far from death, and when the outward man is at reft, his 
soul is often more keenly awake. Not always are dreams 
vain, but sometimes they are heavenly revelations, like those 
of the patriarch Joseph, of Daniel, of Joseph espoused to Mary 
and of the three Magi. 

Novice .—Will you show me an example of how the spirits 
of the dead confess to the spirits of the living? 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Of a novice who confessed to his abbot in his 
dreams. 

Mon \.—A young novice had been received into a house 
of our Order, and after a short time had fallen grievously 
sick, and died. Now he had not yet carried out the cuftom 


159 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


of the Order, and made his general confession to the abbot, 
because that prelate was called away. While with great 
eagerness he was looking for him to return, and Still he did 
not come, he made his confession to the Prior, and so died 
before the abbot’s return. That same night when the abbot 
was asleep in one of his granges, and knew absolutely nothing 
of the death of the novice, the spirit of the dead man bowed 
his head at the bedside of the abbot and humbly implored 
him to hear his confession. (That abbot is said to have been 
S. Hugo of Bonnevaux, who is now beginning to be illustrious 
for his miracles.) When he told the novice that he would 
willingly hear him, he confessed all his sins to him in the 
same order and fashion as he had confessed them to the Prior. 
His contrition was so great, that as he bent over and made 
his confession, his tears seemed to fall upon the abbot’s breaSt. 
When the confession was finished, he uttered these words: 
“ Now, my father, I depart with your blessing, because I 
could not be saved, until I had made my confession to you.” 
At this the abbot awoke, and wishing to know if the vision 
were real, or merely a phantasm, as often happens, touched 
his robe that was about his breaSt, and found it all wet and 
besprinkled with the droppings of tears. Then greatly 
wondering, he returned home and told the Prior his dream, 
and he answered “ The vision was a true one, and the con¬ 
fession moSt real.” 

Novice .—Why did the novice say that he could not be 
saved without such a confession, when it was no contempt but 
necessity only that had prevented him from making it to his 
proper confessor? If he died contrite, he muSt have already 
been amongst the saved ; and if not, no confession after 
death could help him. 

Mon \.—I think that God willed that his words and a< 5 ts 
should show how greatly pleasing to Him is confession that 
is done as a duty, that is, one which is made to the right 
confessor. But that he said that he could not be saved, I 
understand that he meant that he could not be so swiftly 
delivered from purgatory. Of conferences of this kind made 
by the dead with the living you will hear much in the twelfth 
book. Do not be troubled that I said that the spirits of juSt 

160 



Of Confession 


men have confessed their sins after death since even evil 
spirits are related to have used confession. 

Novice .—I should like to hear about their confession. 
Mon {.—What I shall tell you is not what I have read, but 
what I have heard from other Religious. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

Of the confession of a demon. 

Once in Lent, when a prieSt was sitting in church, and 
hearing the confessions of his flock, some going away and 
others coming, there was Standing among those Still waiting, 
one, who appeared to be a young and Stalwart man, also await¬ 
ing his turn. When all the reSt had been dealt with, he came 
up laSt of all, knelt down before the prieSt, and began his con¬ 
fession. He enumerated so many enormous crimes, so many 
murders, thefts, blasphemies, perjuries and sowings of dis¬ 
cord, of which he said that he had been the author, incentor 
or suggeStor, that the prieSt, oppressed with horror and weari¬ 
ness, said to him : “ If you were a thousand years old, you 
could hardly have committed so many grievous sins and he 
answered : “ but I am more than a thousand years old then 
the prieSt Still more terrified, said : “ Who then are you?” and 
he replied: “ I am a demon ; one of those who fell with 
Lucifer. I have confessed only a very small part of my sins ; if 
you are willing to hear the reSI, which are innumerable, I am 
ready to confess them to you.” The priest, knowing that the 
wickedness of the devil was incurable, said : “ What have you 
to do with confession, O devil?” The demon replied : “ I was 
Standing opposite you, and I saw sinners come to you and go 
away justified, and I listened very eagerly to what they said 
and you replied, and I heard mercy and eternal life promised 
to them even after grievous sins. Then I, in hopes of gaining 
the same boon, came to you to confess my sins.” But the 

161 


u 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


prieft, following the example of S. Martin, answered the 
devil faithfully and said : “ If you are willing to take my 
advice, and to do penance honestly for your sins, like those 
whom you have juft seen go out from hence, then you too 
may win the same mercy.” The demon replied: “ If you 
will appoint me a penance that I can bear, I will obey you.” 
“ I will lay upon you,” said the prieft,” a penance very light, 
and much less than the penances of those who made their 
confessions before you. Go, and three times a day throw 
yourself upon the ground, and thus lying proftrate say : O 
Lord God, my Creator, pardon me for I have sinned againft 
Thee. Let this alone be your penance.” But the devil 
replied: “ I cannot do that; it is too hard for me.” “ Why 
do you find a mild penance too hard? ” “I cannot,” he 
answered, “ humble myself so greatly before Him. What¬ 
ever else you lay upon me, I will undertake willingly.” Then 
the prieft was filled with anger, and said : “ O devil, if the 
pride of your heart is so great, that you are neither able nor 
willing to humble yourself to this moderate extent before your 
Creator, depart from me, for neither now nor ever will you 
obtain mercy from Him ; ” and at these words the demon 
immediately vanished. 

Novice. —A wonderful thing that this proud spirit could 
humble himself before a man, and not before his Creator. 
When the sinner has both mouth and tongue wherewith to 
speak, is it enough for him to make his confession in writing? 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

How it is not enough to make a confession in 
writing except in case of necessity. 

Monk •—h does not seem to be enough, because with the 
mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. x. io). If a 
man has already confessed his sins orally, he may afterwards 

162 



Of Confession 


intensify his confusion of face by the written word, as public 
penitents do, or as we read that S. Auguftine did in his book 
of Confessions. That scholar of Paris, about whom we spoke 
above in the tenth chapter of the second book, because he 
could not speak for sorrow, supplemented this defedt with 
writing. 

Novice.- —Then what is that which we read in the Life of 
S. John Eleymon, that a certain woman wrote out her sins 
on a paper which she sealed and gave to the saint, and gained 
pardon without oral confession, though it was shame only 
that prevented her from speaking? 

Mon\. —Something similar may be read in the Life of 
S. Aegidius, about the Emperor Charles, but miracles are 
not to be taken as examples for ordinary life. Be sure of this 
that there is no authorisation for written confessions. 

Novice. —May I ask again if a penitent ought to divulge 
to his confessor the name of a partner in his sin ? 

Mon\. —Certainly not ; the Penitentiary 1 expressly forbids 
this. 

Novice.— Why is it forbidden? 

Monk_.— On account of the various evils that might follow. 
Supposing there was a confessor who should be led to look 
with contempt upon the person thus mentioned, though that 
person might already have been justified by penitence, or 
should incur any other temptations through that indiscretion. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

That it is not lawful for a penitent to reveal the 
partner of his sin, and an example of a cler\ and 
a nun. 

A certain youth fell sick, and confessed, under the com¬ 
pulsion of necessity, to a fellow canon, who was not yet a 

1 Liber Poenitentialis. 

163 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


prieft, that he had been led aftray by a certain nun, and had 
kissed her ; and he was asked if he had actually sinned with 
her. He replied, “ No,” but went on to say that she would 
have made no objection, since she had often invited him even 
with words, and here he spoke her name. From that time 
the confessor always held this nun in contempt in his heart, 
nor could he love and respedt her as much as before. There 
are also other dangers ; the penitent might reveal such a 
name as to cause perpetual enmity between himself and the 
confessor. 

Novice. —For instance ? 

Mon\. —If the penitent were to say : Sir, I have sinned 
with your sifter, your daughter or your concubine, I think 
that the confessor could scarcely help being troubled. 

Novice. —Will you give me an example? 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of a cler\ of Soefl who confessed to a priefl that 
he had sinned with his concubine. 

Mon\. —A certain prieft of Soeft had a concubine with 
whom a young man fell in love and sinned ; in Lent he came 
to the prieft and confessed the sin, and disclosed the identity 
of his partner. When the prieft heard this, he was greatly 
troubled, and wishing to draw him away from this attraction, 
upbraided him harshly, exaggerated the fault and imposed 
upon him too severe a penance. This rancour was not with¬ 
out danger. Whence could arise so harsh a reproof and so 
excessive a penance except from the divulging of the identity? 
This was told me by our Brother, Theodoric of Soeft, who 
knew both the prieft and the youth. The penitent therefore 
ought not to reveal the name of the partner of his sin, while 
at the same time he is bound to confess whatever is an aggrava¬ 
tion of his fault. 


164 



Of Confession 


Novice. —I should like to be inftrudted in the way he 
ought to have spoken. 

Mon{. —He should have used some form like this: Sir, 
I have sinned with the wife, daughter, concubine or sifter of 
an acquaintance, relation, friend or enemy of mine, my own 
wickedness alone being the cause, or her allurements: and so 
with other sins, whether carnal or spiritual. A woman also 
should speak in the same way. Certain sins however are 
committed in such a way that they can scarcely be explained 
unless the confessor knows who the person is ; but too much 
attention should not be paid to that. 

Novice. —What if two should conspire againft their pre¬ 
late, and one of them, led by repentance, should confess his 
sin to this prelate, ought he to divulge the name of the other, 
or not? 

Mon\. —I see danger on all hands. If he does not reveal 
the identity, the prelate may be endangered ; if he does, 
perhaps he may arouse in him undying hatred againft the 
conspirator. Liften to an example very necessary for a 
warning. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Of an abbot who persecuted a mon\ because he 
learnt from the confession of another that he knew 
of his vices. 

An abbot of a monaftery well known to me was ftained 
with a certain vice; and he discovered from the confession of 
one of his monks that another monk knew of this; and at the 
inftigation of the devil he began secretly to persecute this 
other, fearing that he might accuse him at the Visitation. 1 
Now when he desired to send him to a diftant convent under 
some pretext or other, the monk, understanding well the 
reason of this persecution, replied to the abbot: “ Sir, I have 
> Cf. Book i.;. 

165 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


done no wrong to my monastery; if you wish to send me to 
our mother, 1 I will go ; but if not, I will wait here for the 
Visitor.” He knew well that he would not send him to 
Citeaux, left perchance he should disclose his secret. These 
things were told me by an elder monk of the house where they 
occurred. If that abbot persecuted an innocent man so harshly, 
how do you think he would have persecuted a conspirator 
againft him? You see how each was imperilled, the abbot by 
persecuting, the monk by labouring under very grievous 
temptation. 

Not/ice. —Are there any cases in which it is lawful for a 
penitent to reveal the name of another? 

Mon\. —I asked this very queftion of Mafter Herman, 
Dean of Bonn, a man of great learning; and he replied : “ If 
it were such a person, of whom the penitent was sure that he 
would never confess their common sin, he ought certainly to 
disclose his name left he should perish by silence and he told 
me a very useful example of this. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

That it is lawful for the penitent in some cases to 
reveal the name of the other person, and an example 
in a case of adultery. 

When I was vicar, he said, of Little S. Martin’s in Cologne, 
one of my parishioners, a worthy man, went one day alone to 
the house of a fellow citizen and friend of his, and found his 
wife alone in the solar, 2 and being inflamed by her embraces 
and kisses, sinned with her without any premeditation. He 
ran at once to me as if he had taken poison, drank from the 
fountain of confession, caft out the poison, received penance, 
and then added: “ Sir, I will tell you her name, for she is a 
vile woman and corrupts many, and I am sure that she will 

1 Citeaux. 

2 Solarium—upstair*sitting-room. 


166 



Of Confession 


never confess her sin willingly.” In Lent however she did 
come, more from habit than contrition, and confessed to me 
some trivial daily sins, but was altogether silent about the 
adultery. I did not forget the sin confessed to me by the 
other, but because I did not wish to overwhelm her with con¬ 
fusion, nor to betray the penitent, I only said: “ Lady, go 
away now and come back to-morrow; meanwhile say the 
Lord's prayer three times, that God may deign to illumine your 
heart, that you may make your confession fully and worthily.” 
She went away, and came back next day, but only repeated the 
sins she had confessed before. When I told her to go away 
the second time, and repeat the same prayers as before, she 
obeyed not without suspicion, and returning on the following 
day, brought with her a clerk who was her relation, and in his 
hearing broke out into these words: “ Here is that prieft,” 
pointing at me with her finger, “ who charges me with 
adultery; I will complain of him to my lord the bishop.” She 
continued to upbraid me, but I was altogether undisturbed, 
and when we were alone together, I said very gently : “ Good 
lady, why do you hide your sin, and why do you deny what 
you have juft said? Is it not true that you committed 
adultery in such a place with such a man?” She, understand¬ 
ing that I was not ignorant of her crime, came back at length 
to her senses, and replied with much humility : “ Sir, it is true; 
I did commit adultery with the man you mention, and I am 
ready to do penance, and to live chaftely for the future.” Thus 
it came about that she, who came as a sinner, went down to 
her house justified through the perseverance of her vicar. If 
the penitent had not betrayed her, perhaps she would never 
have been justified. 

Novice .—-If it is not lawful for the penitent to reveal the 
name of his partner except in a case such as this, what do 
you think about the confessor? May he in any case disclose 
the sins of his penitents, or their names? 

Mon \.—In many cases he may disclose the sins of his 
penitents, if they themselves remain silent; but he may not 
disclose their names, except in the one case which was, some 
five years ago, decided by Pope Innocent in the following 
way. 

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CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of a mon\ who celebrated without having been 
ordained, and how, by the decree of Pope 
Innocent, it is lawful to reveal the name of such a 
person, if he be unwilling to confess of his own 
accord. 

In a certain house of the Ciflercian Order a monk once 
celebrated without having been ordained. One day he told 
this to his abbot in confession, and yet refused to cease from 
such presumption. The abbot, in great sorrow and with 
many tears, besought, warned and ordered the wretched 
man to desiSl from so great a blasphemy, but without any 
success; for he feared to be discovered if he suddenly ceased, 
and so went on as before. In the following General 
Chapter, the abbot brought forward this case, asking what 
a confessor should do, if perchance any such thing should 
take place in a monastery. And since neither the abbot of 
Citeaux, nor the other abbots, dared to give any decision on 
this, they sent an account of the case to Pope Innocent. He 
called together his cardinals and learned men, laid the case 
before them and asked what decision each one would make. 
Nearly all of them agreed that the confession ought not to 
be revealed, but he replied: “ I decide that the confession 

ought to be revealed in such a case, because such a confession 
is no confession at all, but sheer blasphemy; and the con¬ 
fessor has no right to conceal so infamous a madness, which 
might bring disaffer upon the whole church.” All agreed 
to his decision; and he wrote to the Chapter what he had 
determined, and how it was approved by the Cardinals. Nor 
ought you to doubt that confessors are sorely tormented 
when they have been told any such thing, whose responsi¬ 
bility they feel unable to bear by themselves. 


168 



Of Confession 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

A long and useful Slory about the lay-brother 
Simon of Aulne and his prophecies. 

Not long ago, a monk confessed to his prior a very 
grievous sin; of what nature it was I do not know, but when 
the prior wished to refer it to the abbot according to cuflom, 
the monk refused his consent. This refusal so weighed 
upon his mind, since he felt himself unable to bear alone the 
responsibility of the sin confessed to him, that the prior 
began to waSte away in body through sheer sadness of heart. 
Brother Simon of Aulne, a lay-brother well known to me, 
having learnt of this by the Holy Spirit, said to the prior : 
“Sir, what ails you? Why are you thus pining away?” 
When he replied : “ I am full of sadness,” Simon said : “ Do 
not be so digressed; I know well the cause of your sadness, 
but the Lord will soon give you comfort.” Then he went 
to the monk and said: “ Why do you not confess your sin 
to your abbot? God has revealed it to me, and if you do 
not confess it to him as your appointed confessor, I myself 
will disclose it.” The other, knowing the sanftity of the 
laybrother, then confessed his sin to the abbot, though 
moved rather by fear than devotion; and so the prior was 
delivered from his trouble. 

Novice. —I think that man muff have the spirit of prop¬ 
hecy. 

Mon\. —In truth he has the spirit of prophecy, if he is 
Slill alive, as you will learn from what follows. A certain 
secretary of the Roman Curia, who had heard from many 
that this brother Simon possessed the spirit of prophecy, in 
his desire to see him came from Rome to the monaSIery of 
Aulne, wishing to make his confession in his presence, 
hoping to be corrected by him if he omitted anything, and 
helped if he did not speak fully enough. As he did not find 
him at the abbey, he was conducted to Colomies, one of the 
monaSIery granges, of which he was maSter. As soon as 
Brother Simon saw him, he understood the reason of his 

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coming, and said: “ Sir, I have to go to such a place on the 
business of our house, and if you will wait here for me, I 
shall be ready to satisfy you every wish on my return.” He 
went and returned, and when he had heard from the clerk 
what he already knew, he sent to the monaftery and asked 
that a discreet confessor might be sent to him; and while this 
clerk in the presence of the lay-brother, was making his con¬ 
fession to him with much devotion, and happened to pass over 
several things in forgetfulness, or to explain all the circum¬ 
stances somewhat less fully from shame, the aforesaid Simon 
would interrupt his confession and say: “ Why have you left 
out such and such sins? These things you did at such an age, 
and those in such a place from mere thoughtlessness, and some 
you did under compulsion; correcting him everywhere in such 
marvellous fashion that with the queen of the south he con¬ 
fessed that the half was not told him (i Kings x. 7) of all his 
wisdom. Then going back to Rome, he extolled his pro¬ 
phet through all the Curia to such an extent that the Lord 
Pope Innocent sent for him to his General Council, and 
asked him several questions, so that both he and his cardinals 
learnt by experience his prophetical powers. This was told 
me by Walter of Birbech, a monk in Hemmenrode, who was 
his intimate friend and used to tell many Tories about him. 
Another time he saw a woman who was a sinner and exhorted 
her to confession, telling her to make it in his presence. She 
did this, and he did not suffer her to suppress anything in for¬ 
getfulness or shame, everywhere correcting her confession as 
was said above about the Roman clerk, juft as if he had 
actually seen her sin. 

Novice .—If you know anything more of this lay-brother, I 
should very much like to hear it, for it seems to me a more 
miraculous thing to know the hidden things of the heart, and 
to reveal man’s secret thoughts than to raise the dead. 

Mon \.—What you say is indeed true, for to know a man’s 
inward thoughts belong to God alone. When Dom 
Conrad, now the cardinal bishop of Porto, was a novice in 
Villers, it happened that Brother Simon and the monk Walter, 
now abbot of Villers, with several other monks and lay- 
brethren of our Order, were hearing mass in a certain secular 


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Of Confession 


church. During the canon of this mass, Simon saw the 
spirit of Conrad, though his body was then far away, Stand¬ 
ing near him and wearing a golden crown upon his head; 
he could read also the thoughts of his heart, and the prayers 
in which he was then engaged at Villers. After the mass, 
he drew Walter aside and said: “ When you see Brother 
Conrad, the novice at Villers, tell him to be on his guard, for 
he will suffer certain temptations in the coming year; such and 
such were his meditations, and such and such his prayers 
during to-day’s mass; and you may be sure that one day he 
will be a great personage in our Order.” When later Walter 
saw the novice, he tried to find out in a indiredt way the sort 
of meditations and prayers he was accustomed to use at mass; 
and when he replied: “ Such and such are my usual prayers 
at mass ”; the other went on : “ Will you tell me what you 
were specially thinking of during mass laSt Sunday?” And 
when the novice asked why he enquired so earnestly about his 
thoughts, he answered : “ Only answer my question and I 
will explain the reason afterwards”; and when the novice 
told him the order of his thoughts and prayers during that 
mass, Walter was overwhelmed with astonishment, for it 
all agreed even verbally with what brother Simon had told 
him. Then he made known to him what Simon had said 
about him, warning him at the same time about the nature of 
the predicted temptation, and urging him to be careful not 
to be deceived by the devil under the guise of an angel of 
light. Then a wonderful thing happened, for though the 
novice was well warned and well fortified beforehand, yet 
even so he could not escape the temptation that had been fore¬ 
told, but was sorely harrassed by it within the year. How 
great he became afterwards is well known to us all, not only 
in the Order, but also in the whole church. FirSt he was 
made prior in Villers and then abbot; next he was eledted 
to the Abbacy of Clairvaux, and then promoted to that of 
Citeaux. Nor could this position hold him long, but he was 
summoned by the lord pope Honorius 1 to be cardinal and 
bishop of Porto. What he may Still be in the future, we do 
not know. Once when Simon was Standing in the choir of 

1 Honorius III, 1216-1227. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Villers among his brethren, a lay-brother named Evirgeld, the 
blood brother of Ulrich of blessed memory, who was a monk 
in the same house, as he Stood opposite him, began to be 
offended in him, and to say in his heart: “ I do not believe 
that this lay-brother is all that people say of him; nor that his 
sayings come from the spirit of prophecy, but from mere 
conjecture and he began to despise him in his heart. When 
the service was over, Brother Simon took the monk Ulrich 
aside, and related to him in order all that his brother had been 
thinking in his heart, saying also: “ Give your brother a 
warning that for the future he may not make such unwise 
judgments upon the grace of God in other men, left perchance 
he should one day rue them.” When Evirgeld heard this 
he was greatly terrified, for he now learnt by his own experi¬ 
ence what he had refused to believe on the testimony of 
others. Dom Walter, the abbot of Villers, whom I men¬ 
tioned above, is my authority for all these things, for it was 
from his own lips that I heard them. 

Novice .—These are marvellous things you tell me. 

Mon \.—It is scarce four years ago that Dom Simon, then 
prior and now abbot of Foigny, when visiting our house, 
brought with him this venerable lay-brother, though againSt 
his own wish, I believe; so long as he was with us, he refused 
to say who he was; but certain secret faults among us, that 
assuredly needed correction, were revealed to him by inspira¬ 
tion, and on his departure he pointed them out to one of our 
elders, who repeated to us what he had said, which we after¬ 
wards found to be perfectly true. From us he went on to 
Cologne, and as he was Standing in prayer in the convent of 
the Holy Mother of God, and listening to the siSters chanting 
the psalms, he groaned within himself and said: “ Alas, that 
in all this college of nuns there is not, apart from the children, 
one who has charity,” i.e. who is free from mortal sin. That 
he could know of this by the spirit of prophecy you will under¬ 
stand not only from what I have already said, but also from 
what follows. With the aforesaid Simon the prior, he went 
down to the Netherlands and together they came to the Lady 
Matilda of Schmithausen, a very upright and devoted matron, 
who had for a long time desired to see him, because she had 


172 



Of Confession 


heard many things about him. Sitting down by her side, he 
revealed to her through the Spirit all her inmoft thoughts, 
so that she marvelled much that so great grace should be 
found in any man. This I heard from the lips of the matron 
herself. Laft year when Dom Englebert, archbishop of 
Cologne, had sent Dean Herman and his fellow-canon Gotts- 
chalk to the Roman Curia to seek dispensation from the vow 
of the cross, they found Brother Simon in a certain grange 
and enquired of him how their mission would result; and 
the event was a complete justification of his prophetic words: 
“ Bishops’ envoys,” he said, “ will gain but little in Curia, but 
a simple monk will carry through his business successfully.” 
Both these sayings proved true, for they returned without 
success, but our monk whom we sent at the same time, 
obtained all he desired. There are many other great pro¬ 
phecies of this lay-brother which have not come to my full 
knowledge; some of them I have heard, but I have been 
unwilling to write them down, because I do not remember 
them very clearly; and I would far rather be silent even about 
what is true than write down what may be false. 

Novice .—I wonder if a man so gifted and great had to 
endure any temptations. 

Mon \.—I have been told by an intimate friend of his, that 
a spirit of uncleanness use to vex him, and perhaps does Still, 
and yet it is said that he is flill virgin in body. From his 
boyhood he was brought up in Aulne, and kept the flocks of 
the monaftery; then becoming a lay-brother he showed so 
much aptitude that he was made mafler of one of the granges; 
by the good and faithful administration of outward things, 
as a good and faithful Steward, he won spiritual gifts. 

Novice .—Would that all confessors had the spirit of this 
lay-brother, for then penitents could not hide their sins, either 
in shame or in forgetfulness. 

Mon \.—Although many confessors may lack the spirit of 
prophecy, yet there is in many a spirit of wisdom and prudence 
by which the defeat is supplied. 

Novice .—Tell me, I pray you, if it is of any use to confess 
sin, if the will to sin be not put away? 


m 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Showing that confession, if made with the intention 
of sinning again, is valueless. 

Mon\. —It is of little use, because God does not put away 
sin, unless a man firft puts away his evil desire. 

Novice. —Is it better to confess in such a way or remain 
altogether silent? 

Mon\. —It is better, i.e. more useful, to confess even with 
the intention of sinning again than to be silent. 

Novice. —Why ? 

Mon\. —Because the sinner in confession may be terrified 
and turned away by the penalty incurred by the sin, and he 
will be advised and inftrudted by his confessor; and it happens 
sometimes that he is taught both by word and example so 
that he comes back to his senses, and forsakes his evil intention; 
moreover, if the confessor be a righteous man and pray for his 
penitent, by virtue of his prayers God will sometimes give light 
to the sinner. Do you see how great advantage there is in 
confession ? 

Novice. —I both see it and rejoice over it, but I beg you to 
give me examples. 

Mon\. —That some have been terrified by their confessor 
and have given up the intention of sinning again, will be 
shown you by this example. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of a confessor who threw his money after one who 
had made his confession but refused to repent. 

A man once came to an honeft and outspoken prieft, and 
confessed certain grievous sins; when he had been admonished 


174 



Of Confession 


to give up these sins, and not only to give them up, but to be 
truly sorry for ever having indulged them, and to lead a better 
life in the future, he answered: “ 1 can confess my sins, but 
I cannot pretend to give them up.” Whereupon the prieSt 
refused to assign him any penance; and the man offered the 
usual fee and turned to go away. The prieSt took the money 
and presently hurled it after the retreating figure, crying: 
“ Thy money perish with thee ” (Acts viii. 20). The other 
was so Startled both by the words and the a eft of his confessor, 
that he came back next day, repeated his confession, and 
accepted and carried out a severe penance. You see then of 
how great value is the wisdom of a confessor; if the heedless 
penitent had not been thus terrified, perchance he might never 
have been justified. Hear another example of the great help 
that wise advice may bring to penitents. 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Of an abbot of S. Panteleon in Cologne, who 
impoverished his brother by giving him money from 
the monaHery funds. 

In the monastery of S. Panteleon in Cologne there was an 
abbot whose blood-brother was a citizen of that town. He 
was very fond of this brother and used often to give him secret 
presents from money belonging to the monaflery. When he 
put this money with his own and traded with it, no matter 
what the venture was, it always resulted in a loss, and Still 
he did not discover that the monastery money was eating up 
his own as fire consumes Straw. Now he was a very expert 
trader, and more gifted with foresight and caution than his 
fellows, so that their prosperity and his losses were beyond all 
understanding. The abbot was full of compassion for his 
misfortunes, and kept giving him more money, which Still 


175 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


proved useless, for his means grew less and less, until at laSt 
he was reduced to great traits. Then the abbot said to him : 
“ What is the matter with you, brother? How is it that you 
digress us both by throwing away your substance for noth¬ 
ing?” and he replied: “ I live very sparingly, I look after my 
business very diligently, and I cannot underhand what it is 
that is working againSt me.” At length he came to his right 
mind, went to his prieSt and told him the whole Story in con¬ 
fession; and the prieSt said to him: “ If you will follow my 
advice, you will soon be rich ; this money of your brother’s is 
a theft, and is the devourer of all your substance. In future 
take nothing from him, but trade with the little of your own 
that is Still left, and you will see the good hand of your God 
upon you (Ezra vii. 9). And of all the gain that you shall 
make, return the half to your brother, and use the reSt for your 
own needs, and continue this until you have restored all the 
monastery money that you have had.” Wonderful illustration 
of the mercy of God! The man followed his confessor’s 
advice, and soon grew so rich, that he restored all the money 
to his brother and himself flourished abundantly; and when 
the abbot asked : “ How have you gained all this wealth, my 
brother?” he replied : “ So long as I was taking what belonged 
to your brethren, I was poor and miserable, and you were in 
grievous sin; you in giving me what was not yours to give, and 
I for taking what belonged to others. Ever since I repented 
of this, and avoided the Stolen money, I have abounded under 
the blessing of the Lord.” See the value of wise advice in 
confession. I will tell you a further example, given to me by 
Herman, the dean of Bonn, who said that he had heard it 
from the prieSt to whom it had happened. 


176 



Of Confession 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Of two merchants of Cologne, who in confession 

were advised to keep their word scrupulously, and so 
increased their riches. 

Two citizens of Cologne confessed among other things two 
kinds of sins, which are indeed very grievous in themselves, 
though they seem light and almoff negligible on account of 
their general use, especially among merchants, I mean false¬ 
hood and perjury. “ Sir,” they said, “ we can scarcely buy 
or sell anything without being compelled to lie and swear, and 
often even to swear falsely.” When the vicar said to them : 
“ These are very grievous sins, they were prohibited by the 
Saviour Himself when He said : Let your communication be 
yea, yea, and nay, nay (Matt. v. 7) they replied: “ It is 
impossible for us to keep this injunftion in business.” Then 
said the prieft: “ Follow my advice, and it will be easily 
possible for you. Do not lie, do not swear; recommend your 
bargains only at the loweSl price you are willing to take 
and they promised that they would make trial of this for a 
year; for this is what he begged of them. By the intervention 
of Satan, who always opposes himself to the way of salvation, 
they scarcely sold anything during all that year. When it 
was over they came back to the vicar and said : “ Our obedi¬ 
ence of this year has been very ruinous to us, our customers 
have fallen off, and without our oaths we cannot sell any¬ 
thing." Then the prieft answered : “ Have no fear, this year 
has been a trial of your faith; keep it Steadfastly purposed in 
your heart, that no adversity, no poverty shall draw you 
aside from your resolution, and God will assuredly bless you. 
Then, moved by God’s spirit, they promised that they would 
take his advice and obey the Divine command all the days of 
their life, even if they had to come to beggary. Wonderful 
result I Forthwith the Lord put an end to the trial that had 
been laid upon them; men began to throng their places of 
business more than any of the others, and in a short time they 
became so rich as to astonish themselves. They came back 


177 


12 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


to their confessor, and thanked him that through his good 
advice they had not only been delivered from grievous sins, 
but further had even been increased in wealth. 

Novice. —Examples like this ought to be set before merch¬ 
ants in the churches; perhaps they would learn to shrink from 
trafficking for ill-gotten gains, and from swearing and lying. 

MonJ{. —That is well said. 

Novice. —May I now hear how sinners have been j unified 
through the merits of their confessors ? 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Of an ill-tempered woman, who by her confession to 
S. Malachi, gained a spirit of gentleness. 

Mon\. —In his life of S. Malachi, a bishop in Ireland in our 
own times, the blessed Bernard, abbot of Clairvaux, writes of 
a woman who was so shrewish that neither neighbours nor 
relations nor even her own sons could endure her violent out¬ 
bursts of temper. They took her to S. Malachi, and com¬ 
plained of her, beseeching him to have pity upon her. The 
saint exhorted the unhappy creature to make her confession, 
and she obeyed; he assigned her a penance and prayed to God 
to give patience to the impatient. And lo! a change came 
over her from the hand of the MoSt High. From that hour, 
by the merits of her confessor, the Lord gave her so great 
patience and serenity, that she who before had been wont to 
exasperate everyone, could not thenceforth be moved either 
by loss or by insult. Also that some have been brought to 
contrition in confession by the mercy of God alone has already 
been made clear in the second chapter of the second book, 
which tells of the apoftate monk wno chose for himself two 
thousand years in purgatory. 

178 



Of Confession 


Novice .—Even because the fruits of confession are so mani 
fold, it seems to me right, that those whose duty it is to cleanse 
others should themselves be holy and clean. 

Monk..— Liften. 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 

What a confessor ought to be. 

That a confessor may be perfedf, he should be full of the 
fear of God, wise and learned, outspoken, yet pitiful, kindly, 
and always ready to hear penitents gladly. How much good 
may result if he have these qualities, and how much evil if 
he lack them, let the following examples teach. 


CHAPTER XL. 

Of an avaricious confessor who assigned the same 
penance to two men who came to confess to him, 
one for incontinence and the other for continence. 

Near See si, a city in the diocese of Cologne, a prieft, by 
name Eginhardt, was in charge of a parish; a learned man, 
but with no fear of God before his eyes. At the close of Lent 
one of his parishioners came to him and confessed that he 
had not kept apart from his wife during the sacred season. 
The prieft upbraided him severely, telling him that this holy 
time was set apart for the very purpose of exercising prayer, 
fafting, continence and other good works, and added : “ For 
the satisfaction of this sin, I bid you bring me eighteen denarii 


179 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


that I may say eighteen masses for the expiation of your 
guilt and this the penitent promised to do. As he went 
away, another parishioner came to confess, and when ques¬ 
tioned, Stated that he had been continent all through Lent; 
whereupon the prieSt said : “ You have done very wrong in 
keeping away from your wife for so long; she might have con¬ 
ceived a child, and your continence has made that impossible.” 
The man was terrified, as is the way with simple folk, and 
asked what he muSt do to atone for his fault, and the con¬ 
fessor replied: ‘‘You muSt bring me eighteen denarii, and I 
will appease God on your behalf with as many masses and 
the other promised that on a certain day he would bring the 
money. A few days later it happened in the providence of 
God that these two men were going at the same time to the 
market, each with a sack of produce, and one of their sacks 
fell from the horse into the mud at a bend of the road. When 
the other ran up to help his comrade, the latter cried out 
angrily: “ May the devil pay out our prieft, for it is he that 
is the cause of all my trouble.” His companion asked what 
he meant, and he answered : “ I confessed to him that I had 
been incontinent, and he laid on me a penance, which compels 
me to sell my crop before it is ready, and to take him the 
money he demanded.” To which the other replied : “ What 
is this I hear? I confessed the exa<ft opposite, and yet am 
punished with exa< 5 tly the same penalty; it is on this very errand 
that I am now on my way to the market; assuredly our prieft 
muff be a rascal.” When they reached the city they made a 
complain about him to the dean and canon of S. Patroclus, 
and brought great shame upon him. You see how, if there had 
been any fear of God in this prieft, he could not have been 
guilty of such awful presumption in turning confessions to 
the profit of his avarice. He was very different to the prieSt 
spoken of in the thirty-fifth chapter, who threw his money 
after the unrepentant sinner. 

Novice .—I think that avarice in a prieSt mu£t be a very 
hateful thing in the sight of God. 



Of Confession 


CHAPTER XLI. 

Of the avarice and wantonness of priefls. 

About this you shall hear not my judgment, but that of 
God Himself, as He spake by the mouth of the prophet 
Jeremiah : I will flretch out my hand upon the inhabitants of 
the land. For from the leafl of them even unto the greatefl 
of them, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the 
prophet even unto the priefl, every one dealeth falsely. Also 
by Ezekiel: Ye pollute me among my people for handfuls of 
barley and for pieces of bread, to slay the souls that should 
not die, and to keep alive the souls that should not live. 

Novice. —I have heard of confessors who for a fowl and 
a pint of wine will either relax or cancel altogether the penance 
due for a whole tale of sins. 

Monk-— That is why it is said of them by Hosea: They 
eat up the sins of my people. And be sure of this, that the 
Lord reproves not only the sin of avarice in His priefts, 
but also the sin of wantonness, when He says by the prophet: 
The inhabitants of Samaria have worshipped the calves of 
Bethaven. Samaria signifies guard-house, the inhabitants 
of Samaria are the prieffs, whose duty it is always to remain 
on guard over themselves and over those committed to their 
keeping. They worship the calves of Bethaven when they 
live wanton lives—their house is a house of iniquity, for this 
is the meaning of Bethaven. The calves, which are wanton 
creatures signify the wantonness of the priefts, or perhaps 
their concubines, which alas! in these days many of them keep 
and fear not. How great evils can be wrought in confession 
by evil prieffs, who have no fear of God, I could show you by 
many examples, but I muff spare the Order, spare the sex and 
spare religion. One however I will tell you; it happened long 
ago and was related to me by a priefl. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XLII. 

Of a matron who had brought up a ward and carried 
him forward to the prieflhood, and when she made 
her confession to him, he betrayed her. 

There was a rich and honourable matron, who once had 
committed certain sins so dishonourable that for modefty she 
could not confess them to any priest. One day she found a 
destitute infant, took him up, carried him home and brought 
him up as her own son, caused him to be well educated, and 
finally ordained as a prieSt. Then at length, trusting to the 
love she had always shown him, she confessed to him the sins 
that had so long lain hid. When that graceless fool heard 
them, forgetful of God, forgetful of all the kindness that had 
been lavished upon him, taking confidence from the fa< 5 t, that 
if she should refuse what he asked, he could threaten to expose 
her sins to the world, he began to make wicked proposals to 
her. She, now at peace with God through her confession, 
shrank with horror from his words; whereupon he began to 
spread evil reports about her, but she, now that she had 
cleansed herself by confessing her sins, had no fear that she 
would be subjected to the brand of perpetual infamy among 
men; and her confidence was justified; for the virtue of con¬ 
fession delivered her from evil report, while he was banished 
from the province. 

Not/ice. —These two examples of wicked confessors are 
surely enough; will you tell me some of those who fear God? 


CHAPTER XLIII. 

Of a matron who tempted her confessor. 

Mon\. —When a certain noble matron was talking to an 
abbot of our Order about the secrets of her conscience, under 


182 



Of Confession 


the form of confession, she said that she was deeply in love 
with him. He, as a juSf and God-fearing prieSt, made the 
sign of the cross upon his breaSl, and with difficulty repelled 
her approaches with such words as he could find, saying that 
he was a monk, an old man, slovenly and uncouth. And as 
he said to a monk who told me the Story, this woman was so 
great and powerful a lady “ that if I had been in the world,” 
he said, “ as once I was, never would I have dared to speak 
to her of such a thing, not even in the fainteSt hint. Do 
you see how the devil tries to deceive even us who are already 
dead to the world?” For this abbot before his conversion 
had been a knight, Strenuous in arms, comely and well-known. 
If you wish to know, he was Dom Charles, the abbot of Villers. 

Novice .—Would that all confessors feared God, as this man 
did! 

Mon \.—It is not only the fear of God that is needful for 
them to restrain them from sin, but also wisdom, so that they 
may discriminate between sin and sin; so that they may use 
the key of knowledge as well as that of power, and may know 
how to distinguish between eczema and leprosy, i.e. between 
venial and mortal sin ; also between leprosy and leprosy ; i.e. 
between mortal and criminal sin; because sins vary in heinous¬ 
ness, whether they be venial or mortal, and penance should 
be adjusted according to their degree, and diStinSlion should 
be made between eczema and leprosy. 


CHAPTER XLIV. 

Of an indiscreet prieSl, who used to assign to his 
penitents the penances of the laH pear. 

In our province there is a prieSt vicar who used to say to 
those who came to make their confessions in Lent: I assign 
you the same penance as was assigned to you by my predeces¬ 
sor ; and to others he would say: “ Carry out the same 

i8 3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


penance as I appointed for you laSt year ; ” without con 
sidering how they might have sinned afterwards, nor what 
satisfaction they had given for their paSt sins. This was told 
me by one of his parishioners. 


CHAPTER XLV. 

Also of a vicar, who, when several wished to con¬ 
fess, would make them repeat a general confession 
after him and then would assign the same penance 
to all. 

Another vicar, as I heard from his successor, used to have 
this practice, that when in Lent his parishioners came to the 
church to make their confession, he would take six or eight 
at a time to the altar, and placing his Stole round their necks, 
would dictate to them a general confession in German, mak¬ 
ing them say it after him, word by word ; then after assign¬ 
ing to all of them the same penance, would send them away 
together. He did the same to all, without considering what 
they had done, or who had sinned more, or who less. When 
he died, one of his parishioners, an old man who had done 
well in his business, sent for his successor, asking him to bring 
the Holy Communion, because he was sick to death. When 
the prieSt came and said: “ You muft firSt make your con¬ 
fession,” he replied : ‘‘You make it for me ”, for he only 
knew the custom quoted above. And when the priest 
insisted, he was much disturbed and said: “ Certainly, Sir, 
your predecessor never spoke to me like that.” But the 
prieSt Still refused to give him communion, and at laSt he 
broke out: “ I confess that I have sinned in adulteries, thefts, 
robberies by violence, murders, perjuries and many other 
crimes.” Then said the prieSt: “ Have you really done 
all these things?” and the sick man answered: “Truly, 

184 



Of Confession 


Sir, I have not done one of them.” But he had always 
been accustomed to make his confession in this way, and 
nothing would induce him to confess his ahlual and par¬ 
ticular sins. You see what strange kinds of confessors there 
are, what teachers, what guides of men's souls 1 Whence 
can come such negligence, such ftupid decisions except from 
ignorance of the Divine law? But I should like to show 
you how greatly a penitent may profit by the wisdom of a 
well trained confessor. 


CHAPTER XLVI. 

Of a woman who was juilifying herself in confes¬ 
sion, and how a wise prieSl showed her that she 
had many mortal sins. 

When Herman, Dean of Bonn, was vicar of S. Martin 
in Cologne, a woman came to him in Lent to confess her 
sins. Kneeling before him, she began to pour forth all the 
good deeds she could remember ever having done, and to 
juSbify herself with the Pharisee in the gospel, saying: “ Sir, 
every Friday all through the year I faff on bread and water, 
give alms and go to church,” and many other things of the 
same kind. When she had finished, the vicar said: “ Why 
have you come to me, Madam? Do you wish me to give 
you a penance for these good deeds ? Why do you not tell me 
your sins?” And when she replied : “ I am not conscious of 
any sins,” he asked what her trade was, and the woman 
answered that she was a seller of old iron. So he asked : “ Do 
you ever put smaller pieces of iron into your bundles of larger 
fluff, so that you may sell them all together in that way? ” 
When she admitted that she did, he replied: “ There is one 
mortal sin, for that is deceit. Do you ever tell lies or swear 

185 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


or perjure yourself, or speak ill of your rivals, or envy those 
who sell more than you?” When she replied; “Yes, 
often,” the vicar said : “ These too are mortal sins, and unless 
you accept and carry out a severe penance, you will quickly 
go to hell.” At these words the woman was frightened, 
realised that she had sinned and learnt how she ought to 
confess for the future. Well did he, as a wise and learned 
man, know how to dig through the wall (Ezek. viii. 8) and 
drag to light the idols portrayed (Ezek. viii. io) upon the 
woman’s heart. 

Novice. —What do you mean by digging through the 
wall? 

Mon\. —Questioning the penitent about his sins and 
their circumstances. The phrase is Ezekiel’s, and is fully 
and excellently expounded by S. Gregory. The confessor 
ought to be careful not to dig through the wall, that is, the 
conscience of the penitent, by any injudicious questions that 
might teach him to sin. 


CHAPTER XLVII. 

How a confessor ought not to ma\e enquiries 
about unknown sins, and an example of a maiden 
who was troubled by this. 

In the diStridt of Brabant there was a religiously minded 
girl who made her confession to a certain prieSt. He, being 
not very wise, began to dig rashly into her conscience, i.e. 
to ask her about certain sins unknown to her, which she had 
never either committed or even heard of. But immed¬ 
iately she began to be tempted by these very sins, and was 
troubled so much that she said to the prieSt: “You have done 
me an ill turn this day by speaking of these things to me.” 

186 



Of Confession 


And as she afterwards confessed to another prieff, it was not 
without the greatest difficulty that she restrained herself 
from these particular sins. The wall is to be dug through 
in such a way that the house may not be injured, the idols 
are to be searched out from beneath their coverings with 
skill and care that the tent may not be overturned. But yet 
the confessor muSt be keenly anxious about the sins of his 
flock, and muSt urge them to confession both by word and 
example. 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 

Of an abbot, who by his example brought another 
abbot to confession. 

An abbot of our Order who wished to search the con¬ 
science of another abbot, his pupil, as I have heard him say, 
made to him a general confession of his sins. Then he 
said : “ My Lord Abbot, if you in turn wish to say anything, 
I will gladly liffen.” The other, being ashamed, then con¬ 
fessed to his own sins, though he had not meant to do so, 
but was incited to it by his brother’s example rather than 
by his words, for he was under no obligation to confess to 
him. 

Novice. —As far as I can see, wisdom is very necessary 
for confessors. 

Mon\. —You will understand this ftill better by the fol¬ 
lowing example. What 1 am about to say was told me by 
a venerable prieff and Prior of the Premonftratensian Order. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XLIX. 

Also of an abbot, who of set purpose ate flesh with 
his mon\s in a hiding place, and incited them to 
confession by his example. 

A certain Benedidtine abbot, a good man of Stridt life, had 
a house of monks who were remarkably lax. One day a 
number of them had prepared for themselves a feaSt of 
divers kinds of flesh and coStly wines ; and as they did not 
dare to consume these in any part of the buildings, through 
fear of their abbot, they used as their banqueting hall a huge 
empty wine vat, called by the vulgar a tun, and thither they 
carried all their good things. It was told the abbot that 
certain monks were holding a revel in this tun ; and he 
went immediately to the place in great grief of heart, and 
looking in, changed all the mirth of the fearers into gloom. 
When he saw them thus ca£t down, he pretended jocularity 
and cried: “ Eh ! Brothers, can you have the heart thus 
to eat and drink without me? That is not my idea of fair 
play ; I am coming to take my share ” ; and he went in, 
washed his hands, and ate and drank with them, taking 
away their fears by his example. Next day, having spoken 
with the Prior beforehand, and told him what to do, as 
soon as the monks were all colledted in the Chapterhouse, 
the abbot rose up, and Standing before the Prior, besought 
forgiveness with much humility, and pretending to tremble 
with fear, spoke as follows: “ I confess to you, my lord 
Prior, and to all my Brethren, that I have been overcome 
by the sin of gluttony, and that I sinned yeSterday in a hidden 
place and ate flesh furtively in a wine-vat againSt the order 
and Rule of our Father, S. Benedict.” He then sat down, 
and began to bare his back for the discipline ; and when 
the Prior tried to prevent him from doing this, he said : “ Do 
not hinder my scourging ; it is far better for me to pay the 
penalty now than hereafter.” When he had received the 
rod, and also a penance, and had returned to his seat, the 
monks concerned, fearing to be denounced by him if they 

188 



Of Confession 


remained silent, rose up of their own accord, and confessed 
the same excess. The abbot ordered a good and Strong 
discipline to be laid upon them by a monk appointed for the 
purpose, upbraided them severely, and bid them never to 
presume in such a way for the future under pain of very 
severe punishment. Thus the wise physician corrected by 
example those whom he could not reform by teaching. 

Novice. —I like this Story. 

Monl{. —Hear now an example showing how a confessor’s 
wisdom ought to be tempered with discretion. 


CHAPTER L. 

Of a penitent who gradually climbed from a 
moderate penance to a greater. 

A certain grievous sinner was unwilling to undertake any 
penance corresponding to his sins, and his confessor, who 
was both wise and discreet, asked him: “ Can you say each 
day at leaSt one Lord’s Prayer on behalf of these great sins? ” 
When he replied that he could, he laid that penance upon 
him. Wonderful is the mercy of God, for this prayer began 
at once to soften the man’s heart, so that he came back to 
ask for a further penance, and continued to do this until he 
had reached a worthy penance. It belongs to the discretion 
of a confessor to assign proportionate penances for great sins 
and for small ; and because every penance is to be chosen 
according to the condition of the penitent, he has the power 
of moderating both the quality and quantity of it. But 
always let him remember that mercy rejoiceth againfl judge¬ 
ment (James ii. 13), whether the confession be private or 
public, so that he himself may obtain the same mercy from 
God. 


189 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER LI. 

Of the Abbot Gisilbert, who spared those who lot 
their temper in the Chapter, and so incited them 
to give ample satisfaction. 

Dom Gisilbert, the abbot of Hemmenrode was so pitiful 
that if ever one of his monks or lay-brothers had forgotten 
the virtue of patience and loft his temper after being rated 
by the Chapter in the presence of all, he would have com¬ 
passion on nis infirmity and say : “ Good Brother, go and 
sit down now ; tomorrow you will admit this fault.” The 
monk, being thus given time for reflection, regained his 
tranquillity of mind, and came back the next day ashamed 
of his violence, admitted his fault, and very patiently under¬ 
took a severe penance. How much help may be given to 
penitents by the kindliness of a confessor will be shown in 
the following example. 


CHAPTER LII. 

Of a vicar who by his kindly words in confession 
brought both a usurer and a murderer to give satis¬ 
faction. 

The aforesaid Dean of Bonn was sitting in Lent in the 
Church of S. Martin, where he was vicar, hearing the con¬ 
fession of a woman, when he saw two of his parishioners 
talking as they sat together in a window some distance away. 
One of them was a usurer and the other a man well known 
to be a homicide. When the woman went away and this 
usurer took her place to make his confession, the vicar said 
to him: “ My friend, you and I together to-day will defeat 
the devil finely. Only do you confess your sins without 
reserve, put away all intention of sinning again and follow 
my advice, and I promise you eternal life ; and I will so 


190 



Of Confession 


moderate your penance that it shall not be too difficult for 
you ” ; for he knew well the sin by which he was beset. 
He replied: “ If I could really be sure of what you promise, 
gladly would I follow your advice ” ; and the confessor 
renewed his promise. Now when he had made his confes¬ 
sion, forsworn his usury, and undertaken his penance, he 
went to his companion, the homicide already spoken of, and 
said: “ Truly we have the kindest of prieSts, for he has 
brought me to repentance by the gentleness of his words." 
The other, urged by his example, came to confession, and 
perceiving the same atmosphere of compassion around him, 
accepted his penance and carried it through. 

Novice .—From the many things you have already said, 
I gather that confession requires a high degree of perfection 
both in penitent and confessor. 

Mon \.—One thing {till remains to be said, and it is the 
crown of all a confessor’s virtues, namely that he should show 
himself always ready and willing to listen gladly to any 
that may wish to confess. Of this you have had an example in 
the sixth chapter of the firfl book, where the Prior of Aulne 
had signed to a monk, who wished to make his confession, 
that he muft wait, and the angel of the Lord, in the guise 
of that same monk, rebuked him. How much it is pleas¬ 
ing to God, and how much it helps sinners, when the con¬ 
fessor is always ready for this duty, will be shown in the 
following story. 


CHAPTER L 1 II. 

Of a monk, of Clairvaux who, helped by the 
prayers of his brethren, opened his heart to the 
Prior. 

Two years ago when Dom William, the Abbot of Clair¬ 
vaux, had gone to Rome with other abbots to oppose Cardinal 

191 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Galo, one of his monks confessed to one of the prieSts a 
certain criminal sin. The confessor said to him: “ I have 
listened to you willingly, and gladly will I advise you, but 
I cannot give you absolution, because this confession is not 
made to the right person ; I advise and beg you to confess 
to the Prior, who, in the absence of the abbot, is able to 
absolve you.” When the other replied that he would never 
do this, the confessor in his grief and perplexity revealed the 
danger of the penitent to Dom Siger the Prior, without men¬ 
tioning the person or the sin. He, much disturbed, and 
pondering deeply how he might deliver his brother from 
his peril, invoked with tears the angel of good counsel. At 
the same time a certain lay-brother deserted from the monas¬ 
tery, carrying off much Stolen property ; and the Prior, by 
the inspiration of God, seized tne occasion, and after dwell¬ 
ing upon the heinousness of the sin of theft in the full chapter 
of monks, added this : “ If perchance there be any among you 
whose conscience is seared so that he cannot open it to his 
superior, I bid you all pray for him for the next three days.” 
They all consented ; and while a young prieSt was weeping 
and praying on the vigil of All Saints, he heard a voice from 
heaven, saying: 44 As to the monk for whom you are pray¬ 
ing, his confession has been useless, because it has not been 
made to the right person; but tell the Prior that to-morrow 
when Prime has been said, he is to Stand after mass at the 
door of the Chapterhouse ; and the man himself will come 
to him.” And thus it happened ; while the Prior was Stand¬ 
ing before the Chapterhouse, behold ! the monk came, made 
to him the sign of wishing to confess, went in with him, 
made his confession with much groaning and weeping, and 
accepted the due penance. 


192 



BOOK IV 


OF TEMPTATION 


CHAPTER I. 

Of what temptation consiils in the Religious life ; 
and an example from King Charlemagne, and of a 
thief delivered from the gallows by S. Bernard. 

When the children of Israel came up out of Egypt, they 
were Straightway tempted in the desert. Egypt signifies the 
world or sin, and the desert the monastery ; for in respetfl 
of numbers it is deserted by the many and inhabited only by 
the few. Egypt is interpreted as darkness or tribulation or 
perplexity or persecution ; and nowhere will you find greater 
darkness or tribulation or perplexity or persecution than in 
sin and in the world. The children of Israel are the eledl, 
and as soon as they have come up out of the world by con¬ 
version, and up out of sin by contrition and confession, can 
scarcely avoid, especially at firSf, all manner of temptation 
in the desert, that is, the monastery. And it seems fitting 
that temptation should be treated in the fourth book, be¬ 
cause four is the number of Stability: for a body which is 
foursquare Stands naturally in whatsoever direction it is 
turned. When the sinner has been converted to the Lord 
in body by forsaking the world, and in heart by contrition 
for his sins, and is justified and Strengthened by oral con¬ 
fession, then he will go forward with more security to the 
battle of temptation, and will fight with the enemy more 
effectively. Wherefore it was after baptism, not before it, 
that the Saviour permitted Himself to be tempted by the 

»93 


13 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

devil. Oral confession in contrition of heart is a second bap¬ 
tism. Hence it is that the Apoftles were exposed to perse¬ 
cutions after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and that is why 
soon after Pentecoft the books of the Kings are read, which 
commemorate the wars of the faithful people againft the 
heathen, that is, of the virtues againft the vices. 

Novice .—The order of j unification seems the right one, 
that as confession follows contrition, so ought satisfaction to 
follow confession. 

Mon \.—You are right indeed in this, but you do not 
realise the full meaning of temptation. That, among the 
Religious and especially in the monastic Orders, temptation 
is penance or satisfaction for sin, I will easily show you from 
the words of one full of experience, I mean the holy Job 
(Job vii. i. R.V. margin). The life of man upon earth is 
both a military service and a temptation ; military service 
by reason of its discipline, temptation by reason of its toil 
and peril. And note that he does not say: The life of an 
animal is temptation, but of a man, that is of one who lives 
rationally and worthily of a man, such as is the life of the 
religious. But the worldly and the carnal, who walk 
according to the flesh, are not properly said to be tempted, 
because, as soon as they feel the temptation, they either 
consent to it, or resift half-heartedly. If then the life 
of the religious is temptation, since they are always fighting 
againft vices and lufts, by watching, by fafting, by 
prayer, by obedience in prosperity and adversity, by 
having no possessions in this world for the sake of Chrift, 
needs be that you allow that this temptation itself is a satis¬ 
faction for their sins. Upon those who join our Order, even 
though they may have committed many and grievous sins, 
no other satisfaction is laid beyond keeping the Rule. This 
is why S. Bernard, when once he received a certain king of 
France into the Order, laid upon him that he should only, 
after making his confession, say the Lord’s Prayer. And 
when he was troubled, thinking that he was being mocked 
by the saint, the blessed abbot replied: “ Only do you say 
this Prayer and protect the Order, and I will answer for your 
sins in the Day of Judgment.” Again when the same 


194 



Of Temptation 


saint was passing by chance where a guilty man was to be 
hanged, and asked that he might be handed over to him, and 
the judge said: “ Sir, the man is a thief and worthy of the 
gallows," the abbot answered: “ Give him to me and 1 will 
hang him,” speaking of the severity of the Order as a gibbet. 
The Apodolic See granted this privilege to the Order, that 
the observance of its rule should be sufficient satisfaction 
for any sinner. 

Novice .-—If our religion is satisfaction for our sins, and 
that satisfaction is temptauon from without, will you tell me 
in what and by whom we are tempted? 

Mon \.—The ways in which we are tempted are count¬ 
less, but the agents by whom we are tempted are four: God, 
the flesh, the world and the devil (Gen. xxii. I; Deut. xiii. 3; 
Jam. i. 13. Vulg.). The three other tempters (than God) are 
enemies, and as enemies are to be guarded againd. By 
yielding to them we are confounded, by residing them we 
do well, by conquering them we are crowned. How great 
toil there is in temptation, how great fear, how great cod, 
how great deserving, the following examples will declare. 


CHAPTER II. 

Of the seven deadly sins. 

There are seven principal sins, which spring from the 
same poisonous root, namely pride ; from these seven nearly 
every temptadon is derived. The fird vice that is born from 
pride is vain glory, the second anger, the third envy, the 
fourth accidie or depression, the fifth avarice, the sixth glut¬ 
tony or gormandise, the seventh luxury. Of these some are 
of the soul, as vainglory, anger, envy: others of the body, 
as gluttony and luxury ; and some belong to both, as accidie 
and avarice. Accidie, so far as it consids of depression of 
spirit, is of the soul, and of the body in the external torpor 
that it produces. These seven plagues are the seven rivers, 


195 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


with which is watered the land of Egypt, i.e. the darkened 
heart of the sinner. And as the Nile, from whose abundance 
the seven rivers are fed, flows forth from Paradise and is dis¬ 
tributed through Egypt, so Lucifer was caff forth from 
heaven for pride and diffuses himself through man’s heart 
darkened by mortal sin. These seven vices are typified by 
the seven unclean races, whom the Lord destroyed from the 
promised land before the face of Israel ; they are also signi¬ 
fied by the seven devils, which the Saviour caff out from the 
heart of Mary Magdaline. Taking four of these seven for 
wheels, the prophet Joel conftrufted a chariot for Pharaoh, 
saying: That which the palmerworm hath left the loculi 
hath eaten ; and that which the loculi hath left hath the 
can\erworm eaten ; and that which the can\erworm hath 
left hath the caterpillar eaten (Joel i. 4). The palmerworm 
the blessed Gregory interprets as luff, the locuSl as pride, the 
cankerworm as gluttony and the caterpillar as anger. Many 
overcome luff and are lifted up into pride ; from pride they 
fall into gluttony ; from excess of eating and drinking they 
are turned to wrath. Three horses draw this chariot, and 
they are the three remaining vices, to wit, envy, accidie and 
avarice. Here then are three vices in the horses and four in 
the wheels, and by the seven the devil is carried, according 
to the prophet Amos (Amos 1 and 2), againff Damas¬ 
cus, against Gaza, againff Tyre, againff Edom, againff 
Ammon, againff Moab, and even againff Israel and Judah. 

Novice. —When we are tempted by the vices, is it from 
within or without? 

A ion\. —After the entrance of the virtues, the vices are no 
longer within us in any settled or aeffive condition, but rather 
as inflammable and dangerous tinder. Juft as, after the 
entrance of the children of Israel, those seven tribes were not 
altogether deftroyed, but made tributary, so when the virtues 
enter into the land of our heart, the vices are not entirely 
rooted out, but are held in subjection ; and as afterwards the 
children of Israel were often attacked by the remnants of 
those races, so by the tinder of the vices our virtues are often 
tempted and exercised. 

Novice. —I beg you to explain to me the ffrength of these 
196 



Of Temptation 


seven vices, and to give me examples of the severity with 
which they tempt us. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of pride and her daughters. 

Mon\. —Pride, which holds the firSt place among the 
vices, is a desire for exclusive pre-eminence among others. 
Hence comes it’s name of Superbia, as that which raises itself 
above the brim, i.e. beyond measure. Some include vain¬ 
glory in this vice, the two thus making one in the firSt vice 
of the seven. For there are two kinds of pride, one inward 
in the elation of the heart, and the other outward in the 
orientation of a&ion ; the firSt properly called pride, and 
the other boaStfulness or vainglory. The offshoots and 
flowers of pride are disobedience, fickleness, hypocrisy, Strife, 
obStinancy, discord, presumption in innovations. The fol¬ 
lowing examples will show with what power, through the 
vice of pride, the world the flesh and the devil tempt not 
only those who arc Still in the world but even the cloistered. 


CHAPTER IV. 

Of a lay-brother tempted by the spirit of pride, and 
set free by an angel, who showed him the bodies of 
the dead. 

There was a lay-brother in Hemmenrode, a native of 
Cologne, named Liffard, a very humble and gentle person, 
whose office it was to keep the swine of the monastery. To¬ 
wards the close of his life, as was told me by Dom Herman, 
who was then his abbot, he was tempted by the spirit of 

197 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


pride in the following manner. He was now an old man, 
and had fed swine for many years, and he began in his 
heart to dwell upon such thoughts as this: “ What is it that 
I am doing ? I am a man of good birth, and yet I am looked 
down upon by all my friends because of this menial office. 
No longer will I bring confusion upon them by remaining 
a swineherd in this place ; since no one shows me any con¬ 
sideration, here I will Slay no longer. Now he had already 
made up his mind to leave the monastery the very next morn¬ 
ing, being unable any longer to resift the temptation, but 
on that same night, while he was sitting up wakeful in his 
bed, there appeared to him a certain reverend personage, 
who beckoned to him with his hand that he should follow 
him. Immediately he arose, put on his sandals, and, follow¬ 
ing the other, who led the way, came to the door of the 
dormitory. This was opened by a hand from heaven, and 
together they came to the door of the church, which, as he 
looked was opened by the same agency and they entered 
together. So authoritative were the signs of his guide, that 
he could not but follow wherever he led. Then he was 
taken through the midft of the choir of the lay-brothers, and 
as he passed before the altar of S. John Baptift, he made a 
deep obeisance as he was accuftomed ; the other also bowed 
his head saying: “ You have done well in making so deep 
an obeisance.” 

When they came to the S. Door of the church, which leads 
into the cloifter, they saw this door, which also leads to the 
cemetery, opened in similar fashion, though all these doors 
are closed and locked at night. When brother Liffard saw 
this, he marvelled greatly, yet he dared not say to that other: 
“ Who art thou? and whither doft thou lead me? ” When 
they entered the cemetery, lo, all the graves ftood open ; and 
he led the lay brother to the grave of one who had been 
recently buried, and said to him : “ Look at this man ; very 
soon you will be even as he ; whither then do you to propose 
to flee ? ” Then he turned to lead him to other corpses now 
already putrid and revolting, but the lay-brother began to 
resift and to cry : “ Spare me, Sir, spare me, for indeed I can¬ 
not look upon them.” His guide answered : “ If you cannot 

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Of Temptation 


bear to look upon that which soon you yourself will be, why, 
for a little pride, do you wish to withdraw from your haven 
of safety ? If then you desire me to spare you further sights, 
you muft promise me that you will not leave this place 
and he promised him. 

Now as he took him back, immediately the graves were 
closed, and closed also was each door after they had passed 
through. When they came to the altar of the lay-brothers, 
and he made his reverence there, the other Straightway com¬ 
mended him for this, showing plainly that the deep obeisance 
was pleasing to God. And so they came to the dormitory, 
and at once the door was shut behind them, and when the 
lay-brother again sat down upon his bed, his guide vanished ; 
and from that hour the temptation passed. 

Novice. —Surely that personage who, by a vision so abhor¬ 
rent, opened the eyes of the lay-brother thus obsessed with 
pride, and brought him back to a humble mind, muSI have 
been the very angel of the Lord? 

Mon\. —You have judged rightly, for so great is the lov¬ 
ing kindness of the Redeemer, that although He sometimes 
permit His servants to be hard pressed by grievous tempta¬ 
tions, yet He will not suffer them, by yielding, to lose all 
the fruit of their labours. 

Novice. —Alas, I fear that vainglory often impedes the 
merits of the Religious. 

Mon\.- —Vainglory battens upon the virtues, and in 
sandlity finds its most fertile soil. 


CHAPTER V. 

How a demon said that he had no fear of a virgin 
mon\, because of his pride. 

A demoniac was once brought by his friends to a monas¬ 
tery of our Order in the hope of his deliverance. The Prior 


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came out, bringing with him a young monk of saintly reputa¬ 
tion, whom he knew to be virgin in body, and said to the 
demon : “ If this monk should order you to go out, how 
would you dare to remain? ” The demon replied: “ I have 
no fear of him, because of his pride.” 

Novice. —From this I clearly underhand that the vice of 
vainglory was produced in the heart of this monk by the 
virtue of bodily innocence. 

Monl{. —God has no pleasure in, the devil has no fear of, 
virginity without humility; but humility even without vir¬ 
ginity is both pleasing to God and a terror to Satan. Here is 
an example. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Of the novice Theobald, who conquered his pride 
by drinking dirty water. 

We had once a monk named Theobald, who before his 
conversion had been reckless and wild, given over to wine 
and dice, and notorious throughout Cologne for his buffoon¬ 
eries ; often did I myself see him walking along the Streets 
of that city Stark naked. At laSt he became ashamed and 
remorseful for his scandalous way of life, and by the 
intercession of the leading churchmen of Cologne he was 
received by Dom Gevard our abbot, and became a novice 
in our house. While on probation, thinking that nothing 
could be more acceptable to God than works of humility, he 
besought that he might be allowed to wash the linen of the 
fouleSt kind, and obtained his request. 

Now when he had done this for several days, the tempter 
came to him, and piercing him with an arrow of pride, put 
into his heart thoughts of this kind: “ Fool, what are you 
doing? what business is it of yours to wash the dirty clothes 
of those who are probably less well born than yourself? ” 


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Of Temptation 


After harbouring such thoughts for a while, he realised that 
they came from the devil, who is king over all the sons of 
pride ; so, on that day, he washed the linen with more care 
than usual, and, that he might the more fully discomfit the 
devil, and destroy the pride he had put into his heart, drank 
the dirty water. 

Then the devil, angry to find he could not overthrow him 
by the spirit of pride, attacked him with terrors. (All this 
was told me by Dom Henry our abbot, who said that he had 
heard it from his own lips under the form of confession.) 
For from that filthy and malodorous draught, he was tor¬ 
mented with such violent inward pains, that it seemed to 
him as if his bowels were bursting. Further, that night 
when he retired, he saw two men hanging from a beam in 
the private room ; their bodies were black, their clothes 
torn, their faces covered, so that they appeared like criminals 
who had suffered on the gallows ; and when the novice came 
upon them thus unexpectedly, he was terribly frightened, 
and almoft driven out of his senses ; he ran back to the 
dormitory and sat down panting by the bed of Brother 
Henry, who was afterwards our chief cellarer. And as this 
same Henry told me, he trembled so violently, his breaSt was 
shaken with such frequent sobs, that he marvelled what could 
be the matter with him, of what he could have seen. When 
he told him to go to bed, for it was a bitterly cold night and 
he was sitting only in his tunic, he refused. Thereupon 
Henry threw over his shoulders a part of his own covering, 
and so left him to sit until the signal for matins. 

Novice .—I marvel that a new wall so violently shaken 
should continue to stand. 

Mon \.—He did not Stand for long, for, shaken by fre¬ 
quent batterings of temptation, he was at laSt deceived and 
caSt down by an outward appearance of good. When he 
became a monk, he gained permission from the abbot, after 
much entreaty, to go to France to visit his relations, whom 
he had not seen for twenty years before his conversion, nor 
had cared to see them, and he was to Stay there for a year in 
a certain house of our Order. He went and returned, and 
then deserted, and died outside the Order. A vagrant clerk, 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


who was present at his death, told us that he had made his 
confession to a secular prieft, and had been anointed and 
communicated by him ; and so died in a good contrition. 

Novice. —I learn here from the importunate temptations 
of the demons, that they were more afraid of the humility 
of this novice than of the virginity of the monk in the former 
ftory. 

Mon\. —How hateful true humility is to their pride, you 
will learn more fully from the next chapter. What I am 
going to tell you I heard as one of the a<5!s of S. Bernard, and 
I have thought it well to commit it to writing, because I have 
never seen it written elsewhere. 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of the abbot S. Bernard, who was jeered at by the 
spirit of pride, when greasing his shoes. 

One day, as an exercise in humility, the abbot S. Bernard 
ordered the smith to give him grease, and to light a fire in 
the furnace. Then he shut himself in, that he might not 
seem to be seeking praise for his menial work, and set him¬ 
self to grease his shoes. The spirit of pride, hating such 
humility, came into the room, where it was being practised, 
and, under the guise of an honourable gueft, asked in a loud 
voice where the abbot was ; and when the saint looked up 
at him the demon cried: “ Heavens ! what an abbot ! 
Assuredly it would much better become his honour to enter¬ 
tain his gueSts than to occupy himself in greasing shoes to 
the confusion of his brethren.” At once the saint, taught 
by the Holy Spirit that this was a spirit unclean, bent down 
his eyes again to his humble task, and that boatful spirit 
was resolved into air and disappeared. 

Novice. —If holy men are afraid of being elated by occupy¬ 
ing themselves in despised tasks, or, what is a smaller thing, 


202 



Of Temptation 


by being observed in doing them, much more ought we to 
guard againSl vainglory when we are practising duties that 
are both holy and honourable. 

Mon \.—What do you mean by “ duties both holy and 
honourable?” 

Novice. —Praying, singing, preaching and the like. 

Mon \.—We who are not yet holy, must, as you say, watch 
earnestly againSt vainglory, because when we pray the very 
grace of tears and of heart devotion frequently uplifts us even 
againSt our will ; and when we sing or chant, the sweetness 
or sonorousness of the voice frequently ensnares us ; and in 
our preaching we are often tempted and inflated by the learn¬ 
ing, eloquence or loftiness of our discourse. Others, and 
this can only be reckoned to Stupidity, when they have no 
grace for prayer, or voice for song, or learning or eloquence 
for preaching, pride themesclves even on their monk's dress. 
This too is a sign of Still greater madness, that some pray, 
sing, or preach with the simple aim of winning from these 
exercises human praise and temporal advantage. Of such 
the Saviour saith : Verily I say unto you, they have their 
reward, i.e. what they have sought, to wit, the praise of men 
and worldly profit. In these sacred exercises there are some 
whom pride only besets because they have something 
to be proud of; others whom it distresses because they find 
pleasure in their good performance of them; but the great 
majority are hypocrites, who by their own consent and desire, 
are wholly conquered and Strongly oppressed by the sin of 
vainglory. Would you like now to hear some examples of 
this? 

Novice. —Yes, indeed. 

Mon \.—You have an example of vainglory in prayer in 
the twenty-second chapter of the second book, where the devil 
marked the monk's tears, when his heart was uplifted by that 
very grace. How much danger there is in pleasure of the 
voice, the following example will show you. 


203 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter VIII. 

Of a mon\ of Monte Cassino, who on Eafler Eve, 
vanished after blessing the candle. 

As I have learnt, not from any book, but from the account 
given me by a man illustrious both for his life and learning, 
there was a monk in Monte Cassino, who had a moSt delight¬ 
ful voice. When on EaSter Eve, clad in prieStly dress, he was 
blessing the candle, and in impressive tones was chanting the 
solemn melody of that benediction, and his voice was sounding 
in the ears of all like music at a feaSt, as soon as the blessing 
of the candle was over, he vanished from sight. And it is not 
known even to this day by whom he was carried off or whither 
he went. 

Novice. —Suppose he were carried off by an angel of the 
Lord? 

Mon\. —His brethren who knew his life did not think so; 
they feared that the cause of his disappearance was rather the 
sin of vainglory than any merit of devotion. Hear what 
Auguftine says: “ As often as the singing gives me more 
pleasure than the subjeCt of the song, so often do I confess 
that I sin grievously.” And that mouthpiece of the Holy 
Spirit, the blessed Pope Gregory also says: “ When a pleasant 
voice is the objeCt of our ambition, true meekness of life is 
forsaken.” Here is an example. 


CHAPTER IX. 

Of clerks, who were singing in a spirit of pride, and 
whose voices the devil put into a sacl(. 

Once when certain clerks were singing vociferously in a 
church, that is, loudly and without devotion, and raising on 
high tumultuous voices, a certain religious, who happened 


204 



Of Temptation 


to be present, saw a demon Sanding in a prominent place, 
holding a capacious sack in his left hand, and with his right 
hand widely extended, he caught the voices of the singers, 
and put them into the sack. When the office was over, and 
they were congratulating each other, as those who had praised 
God well and heartily, he, who had seen the vision, said : 
“ You have indeed sung well, but you have sung a sack full.” 
When they wondered, and asked him why he said this, he 
told them the vision. This I heard from a man of very great 
authority, an abbot of the CiStercian Order. These examples 
throw no reflection upon heartiness of devotion in praising 
God in psalm and hymn, but only upon vainglory. How 
pleasing to Him is the uplifting of the voice in devotion, you 
will hear plainly in the fifth chapter of the next book; and 
there too you will find how greatly the demons rejoice when 
the voice is upraised in psalmody without humility. Hear 
now a very terrible instance of preaching with a view to praise 
and gain. 


CHAPTER X. 

Of a priefl who had tafen the cross, and whom the 
devil attached after a sermon had been delivered 
by a certain preacher of the cross. 

When Oliver the scholaSticus of Cologne, mentioned in the 
second book, was preaching the cross in Bruges and Ghent, 
cities of Flanders, a prieSt named Siger, wearing a religious 
dress and having a cross on the breaSt of his cassock like a 
Templar, introduced himself to Brother Bernard, our fellow 
monk, who was then the assistant preacher and colleague of 
Oliver. This man was of handsome face and imposing 
presence, and very eloquent in his own dialed. He offered 
Bernard a gem of many colours and said that he had brought 
it from Ceuta, and that it was of such virtue as to bring success 


205 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


to any who wore it. But Bernard said: “ Sir, I muft decline 
your gifts, you will soon discover if I can help you with the 
Master in any way within reason for it seemed to be his 
desire to get authority from Oliver to preach; and the same 
day permission was given him to address the people. 

On the following day, after Bernard, at the Station next 
appointed, had preached a moving sermon to the crowd, as 
soon as the sermon was over, Siger, who was then present, 
fell headlong to the ground, with contortions of the body as 
of one possessed, as indeed he was. MaSter Oliver, coming up 
immediately with his clerks, made the sign of the cross over 
the man, and had him carried into the church and laid before 
the altar, where the poor wretch poured forth a Stream of 
blasphemies and horrible words againSt God and againSt 
Oliver himself. Then he was fastened to a cart with Straps 
and sent to his friends; and it is said that the devil carried him 
off on the fifth day in accordance with a previous threat. 

Now from this man’s obsession and death we can see that 
his preaching was not for the sake of devotion, but rather of 
ambition. He is said also to have been an apoState, and in 
some way to have obtained letters from the lord pope, allow¬ 
ing him to enter the province. Others said that he had been 
in that excommunicated ship, which carried arms to sell to 
the Saracens in Ceuta. 

Novice .—It aStonishes me that the Lord should punish 
contempt so severely in this man, while there are so many 
prieSts to-day who handle moft unworthily the sacred 
mysteries of ChriSt, and only preach Him at their convenience. 

Monk (.—I think he was made an example for other prieSts, 
both that they should not trouble that pure preaching of the 
cross, which was being done only for the honour of ChriSt, 
and also, because of the merits of Oliver. How severely at 
that time ChriSt punished deceits and insults caSt upon Him 
in His preachers, you have an example in the seventh chapter 
of the second book concerning Gottschalk the usurer, who 
cunningly cheated the Pope’s dispensator; you will also have 
another in the next chapter about an old, pride-ridden woman, 
who jeered at MaSter Arnold, Oliver’s disciple, when he was 
preaching. 


206 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of an old woman, who hindered Mailer Arnold, 
when preaching the cross, by dancing round and 
jeering at him. 

When this Arnold was a paStor at Burgende, which is a 
town of Over-Yssel, and his parishioners on the day of S. 
Peter and S. Paul, were celebrating some annual festivity 
with dances and music, he, being now commissioned as a 
preacher, came to the dance with the cross, and warned, 
besought and ordered all the people to give up their devil’s 
game. When he began to preach his sermon on this spot, 
some of them came obediently to his preaching, others with¬ 
drew angrily, and re-eStablished the dance a little way off, 
while some persisted in a Stubborn refusal. Among the laSt 
was a foolish and proud old woman, who, as often as in circl¬ 
ing round in the dance she came near to God’s prieSt, Stared 
back at him and jeered as she sang. Within three days she 
died suddenly, and the good man mourned for her as if he 
had killed her with his own hand. Since the devil tempts 
so many through the vice of pride, let all men, particularly 
the religious and cloistered, take especial care so to conduct 
themselves in words, gestures and clothing, and everything 
else external, that they may not be noticeable for the vice of 
pride in the eyes of the world. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Of Philip, King of the French, who reproved a 
Blac\ mon\ for the tightness of his leggings. 

In France a certain noble made repeated attacks upon a 
Benedidtine monastery; and the abbot and brethren determined 
to send one of the monks to Philip who was king at the time. 


207 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


to tell him of the knight’s violence. A young man of noble 
birth was chosen as one who would have more weight with 
the king than any other, because he was so highly connected. 
When he came before the king, he said : “ Sir, this noble with¬ 
out any provocation is harassing our monastery to our con¬ 
tinual hurt and injury, and is persecuting our brethren and 
household with many threats and insults; and our convent 
humbly prays your majefty that you will bear in mind your 
heavenly reward, and retrain him from committing these 
great wrongs and compel him to make due reparation for his 
robberies. 

The king, after considering the carriage and dress of the 
monk, said: “Sir, who are you, and what is your origin?” 
And when the youth told him his father’s name, the king 
answered : “ You are indeed of noble birth and after the 
king had talked a little more, the monk added: “ Truly, sir, 
he carries off all our goods, and has left us scarcely anything.” 

To which the king replied : “ Truly, sir, that is plain 
enough in your leggings; for if he had left you any leather, 
they need not have been so tight; the nobler you are the more 
humble you ought to be.” Then after this rebuke, wishing 
to be kindly, he added : “ You muft not be annoyed at my 
reproof, because I made it for your good. Go back to your 
monastery, and for the future, that noble shall trouble you 
no more.” 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Of Philip, King of the Romans, who rebuked, an 
abbot of the Ciflercian Order for the same reason. 

Philip, King of the Romans, reproved a certain abbot of 
our Order with a similar remark, which perhaps he took from 
the aforesaid king of the French. When the abbot, riding 
upon a horse, came to speak with him about the needs of his 

208 



Of Temptation 


house, the king looked at his leggings, which were indeed 
very close fitting, and asked him from whence he came. 
When the abbot answered: “ Sir, from a very poor house,” 
the king said : “ That may easily be seen from your leggings, 
for leather is evidently precious there.” The abbot was 
confused by this remark. 

Novice.— Pride is very deservedly put to confusion. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Also of an abbot, whose horse’s caracolings would 
not allow him to spea\ with FredericKing of the 
Romans. 

Mon\. —Laft year a certain abbot of our Order, well known 
to me, rode to the Court, desiring to speak with Frederick, 
King of the Romans, who had succeeded his uncle Philip as 
emperor. When he came into the presence, his horse began 
to whinny, curvet and prance in such a way that he could not, 
with all his efforts, get near to the king who was sitting upon 
a very quiet beaSt. 

Novice. —What could so great a prince have thought? 

Mon\. —I think he was a good deal scandalised. For a 
similar thing had happened before on the same horse, when 
the abbot once came to see me, and I was scandalised myself 
not a little by the sight of him upon such a horse. Indeed, 
when he had with much confusion withdrawn from the king’s 
presence, he refused to ride that too spirited horse again. This 
abbot was a simple-minded old man, very humble and Strict 
in his life, although he showed so little circumspection in this 
feat of horsemanship. 

Novice. —What rightly displeases the world in religious 
men cannot be pleasing in the sight of God. 

Mon\. —You say truth, for, while we owe to God a good 
conscience, we also owe to men a good reputation. To say 


209 


14 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


nothing of the scandal caused in the world by the pride of the 
religious, when Jews and pagans see pride or the signs of 
pride in Christian men, they abhor the Christian religion, 
and the name of Chrift is blasphemed through such Christians. 
About this I will tell you the words of a certain Saracen, words 
which are well worth remembering. 


CHAPTER XV. 

Of a pagan who said that the Chriflians were driven 
out of Acre for their pride and gluttony. 

Brother William, formerly our chamberlain, had been 
canon of Utrecht before his conversion. When he was a 
young man, he had taken the cross, and had gone over the 
sea for the sake of the holy Sepulchre. Before his ship 
entered the harbour of Acre, both he and the other pilgrims 
saw the light of fires in different places round the city before 
dawn. When they asked the sailors what these fires were, they 
replied : “ In the summer weather, owing to the heat the 
citizens set up tents outside the town for the sake of coolness." 
Thinking this to be the explanation, they went on into the har¬ 
bour, and then for the firlt time learnt that the Saracens were 
in possession of the city; for at this time, as the result of our 
sins, the Holy Land had been given into the hands of Saladin, 
King of Syria, during the reign of the Emperor Frederick. 

Now Noradin, the son of Saladin, a man of a kindly and 
humane nature, was at that time governing the city; and 
when he saw a Chriifian ship in the harbour, and guessed 
why it was there from the fadt of its being alone, he took 
pity on the Chriftians, and sent in a boat to the ship a certain 
pagan noble, well versed in the French tongue, to tell them to 
have no fear. Up to that hour they had been in suspense, 
not knowing whether they were to be killed or made prisoners. 


210 



Of Temptation 


Now there was in the ship a certain Christian noble from 
Germany who was at the point of death, and he sent to 
Noradin, through the same pagan, all his arms, which were 
very beautiful, together with three war horses, begging him 
to spare the lives of his brethren. “ I,” he said, “ had vowed 
to serve ChriSt with these arms for three years, but, as I now 
know, it is not His will.” Christian messengers were also 
sent, one of whom was Brother William, because of his know¬ 
ledge of the French tongue, to present these gifts to the prince. 

Now when these presents were brought to Noradin, he 
took them into his hands, one by one with much reverence and 
kissed them all, the coat of mail, the shield, the helmet, and 
the sword; he also kissed the horses, and sent back a message 
that he would come himself to visit the sick man. Mean¬ 
while the knight died, and a Slone being carefully fastened 
to his body, he was buried in the sea; and another sick knight, 
also a noble, was placed in his bed. 

In the morning the prince, embarking with many galleys 
of different colours, came to the ship, climbed upon it, and 
after giving thanks for the presents, sat down by the sick 
man’s bed, and consulted with his physician, whom he had 
brought with him, about the knight’s recovery. He gave him 
also some fruits of a very rare kind, which he said were grown 
in his father’s garden at Damascus. Then he said to the 
invalid: “ For your sake I will show kindness to all 
Christians.” When they asked from him a safe conduit to 
the Holy City of Jerusalem, which was Still held by the 
Christians, he replied: “ It would not be safe for you, nor 
creditable to me, if you should be injured and my safe conduit 
violated by any of the robber bands which are now thronging 
all the approaches to the city.” On leaving the ship he bade 
farewell to the sick man and to the others, giving them leave 
to return home, and proteiting them again?! Saracen attacks 
by the seal of the royal spear. 

Then the aforesaid noble pagan, taking back Brother 
William with him into the city questioned him as follows: 
“ Tell me, O youth, how the Christians keep the law of 
ChriSt in your country.” He, unwilling to tell the adtual 
truth, replied : “ Fairly well." Then said the admiral: “ I 


211 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


will tell you the practice of the Christians of this land. My 
father was a great noble, and sent me to the king of Jerusalem 
that I might learn French in his house, and he in turn sent 
his son to my father to learn the Saracen language; and so it 
came about that I know well and intimately the manner and 
life of the Christians. There was not a single citizen of 
Jerusalem too rich to take money for handing over his siSter 
or daughter or even his own wife to the desires of the pilgrims, 
who were thus despoiled of the reward of all their labours. 
They were all so enslaved by the pleasures of gluttony and the 
flesh that they differed in no way from brute beaSts. Indeed 
pride was lord over them to such an extent that they never 
wearied of pondering how they might cut and tuck and slash 
their robes; and the same thing may be said about their 
gaiters.” And he added: “ Look at my clothing and my 
gaiters, how round, how ample, how simply and modeStly 
made.” In truth he had, as the same William told us, 
sleeves as loose and ample as those of a monk. In his robes 
there was no extravagance or fancifulness of pleat and tuck, 
although the material was coStly. “ See,” he said, “ it is 
for these vices that God has caSt out from this land the haughty 
and luxurious Christians, for He could no longer suffer their 
many iniquities. Not by our own arm have we won the 
country.” And laSt of all he added this: “ We fear none of 
your kings, not even your Emperor Frederick; but, as we read 
in our books, a Christian emperor will soon arise, Otto by 
name, who will reStore this land and the city of Jerusalem to 
the Christian religion.” 

When we heard this, we hoped that the prophecy would be 
fulfilled in the Emperor Otto the Saxon, 1 but alas! he died 
two years ago. At that time Saladin showed great humanity 
to the Christians. When the Christian army was defeated, 
and partly slain, partly captured and the reSt dispersed, he 
allowed the survivors of those cities, which surrendered volun¬ 
tarily, to remain in their own towns, though under good 
guard. After a few days he enquired from his officers how 
the Christians were behaving and received the reply: “ Sir, 
they live juSt like animals, zealous only for amusements and the 
1 Otto IV, d. 1118. 


212 



Of Temptation 


pleasures of gluttony.” Then in anger he ordered them to 
be expelled from the cities. 

Novice. —Alas! alas! that the Christian should hold almoSt 
as the law of his life, that which the Jew abhors and the pagan 
cries shame upon! 

Mon\. —Let this be enough about the temptation of pride; 
let us now consider that of anger. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

Of anger. 

Anger is an unreasoning disturbance of the mind, or, 
according to another definition, anger is a temporary madness 
of an excited mind, burning with the desire of revenge. From 
anger are born quarrels, excitements, insults, outbursts, pro¬ 
vocations, blasphemies. Anger may either lie hid in the 
heart, or break out into words, or into violence (Prov. xxix. 22; 
Ecclus. xxvii. 30; James iii. 16). 


CHAPTER XVII. 

Of one who slew his fellow servant because of an 
angry word. 

Two servants of our household quarrelled together in 
words, and one of them was so inflamed with anger that he 
was like a madman; and meeting the other outside the mona¬ 
stery, slew him all unsuspicious of any attack. Strong muSt 
have been this man’s temptation (James iii. 5). I have known 
some so tempted by one little word that they have become 
apoState. These in truth were signified by the sixth plague 


213 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


of Egypt, to wit, the boils breaking out with blains (Ex. ix. 9); 
that is, anger with madness, for apostasy is madness. Anger 
is natural, but when that emotion becomes immoderate, it is 
branded as a vice. 

Novice. —I should like now to hear some examples about 
religious men, so that our anger may be retrained and we may 
be the more kindled to the virtue of patience. For in the 
world, anger and impatience are scarce considered at all, and 
men are universally despised, if they do not avenge themselves 
when provoked. 

Mon\. —Do you wish to have examples by which you may 
learn how dangerous it is, and how displeasing to God, when 
those who are in a subordinate position are impatient and 
angry with their superiors, even when provoked ? 

Novice. —Yes, indeed. 

Mon\. —I will tell you the fadts juft as I heard them from 
the mouth of him to whom they happened. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

Of a prior, to whom was shown at night a vision of 
Chritt, bound to the cross by thorns. 

A certain prior of our Order, a man of good and ftrift life, 
was sharply rebuked by his abbot more than he deserved; more 
than was necessary, and very frequently. This became a great 
temptation to him, and he was unable to endure these rebukes 
with a tranquil mind, as he ought to have done. The Lord, 
wishing by the example of His Passion to cool the heat of his 
temptation, and to show that even unjuft superiors ought to 
be cheerfully endured for His sake, taught him by the follow¬ 
ing example. 

In the night when he was sleeping lightly, it seemed to him 
that he and his abbot were carrying a crucifix, the abbot on the 


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Of Temptation 


right hand and himself on the left. While they were support¬ 
ing Him thus equally balanced, the arm of the cross which the 
prior was holding slipped from his grasp, and the other rose 
up, so that there was no longer any equal balance. Then the 
prior awoke, and understood the vision, and said to himself: 
“ What are you doing, unhappy one? you are not bearing 
the body of the Lord equally with your abbot, because you 
are nursing rancour againSt him in your heart.” 

He interpreted truly that the monastery was the body of 
ChriSt, and that the Stridt rule of the Order was the cross, to 
which the brethren were nailed by obedience; that it is 
especially the duty of the abbot and prior to carry, to hold and 
to support the convent, which is Christ’s body; to carry it by 
prayer, to hold it by discipline and to support it by consolation; 
the abbot in the place of a father, the prior in that of a mother. 
When the abbot and the prior are not in full concord, they 
carry the body of ChriSt with unequal balance. 

Now since this prior was Still uncorredted by this vision, 
and his interpretation of it, which I have juSt shown, and was 
not set free from the grudge he felt, the Lord showed him 
another vision, the more efficacious as it was the more terrible. 
One night when asleep, there came to him a very Striking and 
convincing vision; he saw opposite him the Saviour, not in 
any painting or sculpture, but in His adtual flesh, hanging 
upon the cross. He was bound to it with bonds of thorns in 
five parts of His body; one chain surrounded His head, pass¬ 
ing over His forehead and temples; another was about His 
breaSt; a third bound His right hand, and a fourth His left; 
while the fifth was over His feet, enclosing both his ankles and 
the wood of the cross; as if the Lord were saying to him: 
“ For thy sake I suffered these dire torments, and thou canSt 
not with a quiet mind bear from thy abbot, I say not blows, 
but even words for My sake. Obedience, which thou likeSt 
not, is a trouble to thee, yet for thy sake I was obedient to the 
Father even to death and the insults of the cross, which are 
like chains of thorns.” 

As he told me, the Lord immediately granted him to under¬ 
stand the vision as follows : “ In that ChriSt, who is the Head 
of the church, was bound with thorns, He shows thee that 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


thou oughteSt to obey thy head, that is the abbot, even in 
difficulties. That He was bound over the breaSt teaches thee 
that thy will ought to be in concord with that of the abbot, 
for the heart lies in the breaSt, and the will is in the heart.” 
Now his temptation had gone so far, that he had made up his 
mind to change his monastery if he could. “ The chains,” 
he said, “ bind His hands to show that thou oughteSt to do 
nothing but what He commands; and that He shows Himself 
bound by the feet to the cross with thorns, signifies that it is 
not lawful for thee to change thy monastery without His 
consent, but whether thou Stand or walk, it muSt be only in 
accordance with His will.” By these two visions he was both 
terrified and inStrudted and for the future, he Studied to 
endure with a tranquil mind, for Christ’s sake, whatever his 
abbot said or did. 

Not/ice. —As I see it, it is dangerous for us to Strive with 
our superiors. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of a cellarer, whom in a vision the crucified re jetted 
because he had given too rough an answer to 
his prior. 

Monf{. —LaSt year a certain chief cellarer was arguing with 
his prior about certain outside matters, and thought that he 
had every reason to show his anger. That night the Saviour 
appeared to him upon the cross and Stretched upon the ground, 
and over His body was spread a thin and transparent covering. 
Now when he desired to draw aside the veil, and to kiss His 
wounds, the Figure with repelling hand indignantly put him 
away, as if to say : “ Thou art not worthy to touch My body, 
for thou haSt provoked me but now in the person of thy prior.” 
At once he aroused himself from sleep, and recognising the 

216 



Of Temptation 


cause of his repulse, as soon as matins was over, in my pres¬ 
ence, threw himself at the feet of the prior and begged forgive¬ 
ness for his outburst. 

Novice.—If he who is angry with his brother is in danger 
of the judgment, no longer can 1 doubt that he is in danger of 
a greater penalty, who is angry with his father, i.e. his superior. 

Mon\.— It is as you say; because we owe to our fathers, 
whether carnal or spiritual, greater reverence than to our 
brothers. 

Novice. —What if from a raging heart an angry word be 
hurled againSt the saints, or what is more, againft God Him¬ 
self. 

Monk- —Such a word arising from anger is blasphemy, and 
is often punished very severely by God. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Of a scholar who died within three days because he 
had cursed the holy Abraham. 

Mon\. —A certain scholar at Paris, when our abbot was a 
Student there, uttered an insulting word againSt the holy 
Abraham, and when he died three days afterwards, all, who 
had heard what he said, knew that the Lord had avenged his 
saint by this punishment of death. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

Of a knight, whose son was killed by a thunderbolt, 
because the father had blasphemed againfl the bad 
weather. 

Five years ago, at the time of those violent thunderstorms 
when the harvest was hindered by almoSt daily rains, a certain 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


knight of our province, who lived in a township very near 
to us, when he saw the sky in the weft growing dark with rain- 
clouds, said angrily: (he was always a man of rather unbridled 
speech) “ See, here comes the devil again 1 ” Scarcely had he 
utered the words when, behold, a thunderbolt ftruck his little 
son on his nurse’s lap without injuring the woman. And 
further for that blasphemy he was afflifted in other of his 
possessions, both in buildings and cattle, that he might learn 
for the future not to blaspheme. This happened at the same 
time that our farm near the town of Cassel was ftruck by 
lightning. From this it is clear how foolish it is for a mortal 
man, who is but duft and ashes, to Stretch forth his mouth unto 
the heavens (Ps. lxxiii. 9). See how anger produces ill con¬ 
sequences, not only like this, but of countless other kinds. 

Novice. —-If in this life God punishes so terribly the sin of 
anger, surely in the life to come He will grievously affliift the 
slaves of this vice. 

Mon —You will learn this in the following chapter. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of a shrewish maiden, who when buried was 
consumed by fire from the waifl upwards. 

The bailiff of a neighbouring town called Konigswinter told 
me a very terrible ftory. Not long ago, he said, a monk, a 
ftranger in these parts, was in our church at mass, and near 
him were some fashionable matrons, the wives of certain 
knights, whose empty chatter interfered very much with his 
prayers. When the mass was over he drew some of these 
knights aside and said to them: “ Sirs, I came to this church to 
pray, but the devil prompted these ladies to make so much 
chattering and whispering round me that I could not pray at 
all. I should like to tell you a terrible ftory of what happened 

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Of Temptation 


in my own time and in my own town. There was a certain 
high-born maiden, the daughter of wealthy parents, who had 
so violent a temper and was such a quarrelsome scold, that 
wherever she was, whether at home or in church, there she 
Stirred up quarrels and revived old enmities, so that he who 
could escape the scourge of her tongue, thought himself a 
happy man. 

At laSt she died and was buried in the parvis of the church. 
When we came to the church the next morning, we saw that 
her tomb was emitting smoke like a furnace. Terrified at 
this and eager to discover what it meant, we threw out the 
earth; and behold, the upper part of her body was consumed 
by fire, while the lower part from the waift downwards was 
seen to be untouched. 

Novice. —What did this signify ? 

Mon\. —I agree with what was said by those who had 
known her life: God willed to show in her body that 
He was pleased with her virtue of chaftity, and that He 
abhorred her vice of ill-temper. Because she was a virgin, the 
lower part of her body was preserved uninjured for the sake 
of her chaftity, but because she was so prone to anger, her 
heart, her liver, her tongue, her hands, and all the adjacent 
parts, were devoured by fire, for anger is a fire (Ecclus. viii. 4; 
Ecclus. xxviii. 11, Vulg. ; James iii. 6). 

Novice. —What you say so terrifies me, that I purpose never 
again to lose my temper with my brethren. 

Mon\. —Then you will be happy (James i. 26; James iii. 
8, 9 ; Prov. xviii. 21, Vulg.). 

Novice. —By what metaphor can the tongue be said to have 
hands ? 

Mon\. —Because if it be harsh, if often becomes a cause 
of death to body and soul, but if it be soft and gracious, it is 
a cause of life to both. Wherefore Solomon : A soft answer 
turneth away wrath; but grievous words Hir up anger (Prov. 
xv. 1). This was fulfilled in David, into whose hands Nabal, 
by his grievous words, put a sword for his own death, but 
Abigail withdrew it by her soft answer (1 Sam. xxv.). Because 
death lies in the hands of the tongue, the wisdom of our 
Creator has set before it a double wall, one of bone and one of 


2x9 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

flesh, i.e. the teeth and the lips; but He made them both to 
open, that life might pass through; and to speak only what 
is good is life-giving. 

Novice. —I like what you say. 

Mon\. —Let this be enough about anger. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of envy and her daughters. 

Envy follows anger, and is born of it. For envy is a chronic 
anger, namely, the hatred of another’s happiness. Her 
daughters are : hatred, backbiting, detraction, delight in the 
adversity of a neighbour, affliction in his prosperity. It was 
this vice that transformed an angel into a devil, this vice that 
caft man out of Paradise (Wisd. ii. 24). To show how 
grievous and dangerous this sin is, John in his epitle closes 
with a brief exhortation, and says: Whoso hateth his brother 
is a murderer (1 John iii. 15). The more this vice is con¬ 
cealed, the more dangerous it is. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Of a mon\, who, being accused by the envy of 
another, was imprisoned and gloriously delivered. 

Not long ago a certain monk, attacked and conquered by 
the pangs of envy, accused one of the younger brethren before 
the abbot, imputing to him very foul crimes. Now when the 
abbot did not believe him, he reserved his accusation for a 


220 



Of Temptation 


greater punishment when the Visitor should come. What 
need of more ? The guile of the envious monk had so great 
weight with this Visitor, that in the presence of them all at 
Chapter, he threw in the teeth of this youth all the vices that 
had been reported to him, and when the young monk denied 
them, and called God to witness his innocence, he refused to 
believe him and ordered him to be thrown into prison in a 
scanty robe. After the departure of the Visitor, the juflice of 
God Struck down the envious accuser with a sudden sickness; 
and fearing death was at hand, he confessed that he had 
accused him falsely through envy; and when by his confessor’s 
advice he had made this clear to the elders, the truth was 
immediately conveyed to the Visitor, who returned at once in 
consternation to the monastery, went to the prison and pros¬ 
trate at the feet of the monk, begged his forgiveness, because 
he had sinned againSt him in ignorance; and afterwards 
brought him out with great honour, giving no heed to his 
modeSt reluctance. All this was told me by an abbot, who 
was present at that visitation. 

Novice .—Surely that monk earned great merit under so 
heavy a trial? 

Mon \.—That trial was to him what the furnace is to the 
gold, the file to the iron, the flail to the grain, the winepress 
to the grape; for he kept his patience in tribulation. To the 
envious monk, his envy was as poison to the Stomach, as the 
moth to clothing, as blight to the flower, or as consumption 
to the body. 

Novice .—If you know of any further examples of tempta¬ 
tions by envy, I pray you tell me them. 

Mon \.—Because envy is a hidden disease, no example 
occurs to me at present, which is either worthy to be remem¬ 
bered or necessary for edification. Nevertheless I will tell 
you of a certain meritorious envy, which you will be pleased 
to hear. 


221 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Of a girl who envied the zeal of her sitter in her 
ttudies. 

LaSt year in a monastery of our Order, called Yesse, in 
Frisia, two little girls were put to learn lessons together. Since 
both were zealous scholars, a rivalry arose between them that 
each might surpass the other in industry and knowledge. 
Meanwhile it happened that one of them fell ill; and she, 
envious of the advance of her companion, began to be sorely 
tried by her fear that the other might make great Strides in 
her absence; and so she asked for the prioress and made her 
prayer to her, saying : “ Good miStress, when my mother 
comes to see me, I will ask her for six denarii, which I will 
give to you, if you will Stop my siSter from going on with her 
Studies until I am well again, because I am afraid of her 
getting beyond me.” At which the prioress laughed, in 
great admiration of the child’s zeal. 

Novice. —Tell me, I pray you, the right medicine againSt 
envy. 

Mon\. —Loving service. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

Example againtt envy put forward by Matter 
Rudolph. 

MaSter Rudolph, the ScholaSticus of Cologne, whom I 
knew well and frequently heard le< 5 ture, used to teach his 
pupils againSt envy by insisting upon this example: a certain 
Brother held one of his Brethren in such abhorrence, that he 
could not look upon him without real torture. The other, 
perceiving this, and eager to heal the wound in his Brother’s 


222 



Of Temptation 


heart, used all his zeal to draw out, by loving attentions, the 
affeiftion of this Brother, who was so dangerously tempted, 
nay rather, who was altogether overcome by this temptation. 
He turned and smoothed his pillow, he brushed his clothes, 
he arranged his shoes by his bed, and so far as he possibly 
could, did everything he knew to please him. And he suc¬ 
ceeded, for that envy was finally conquered by his services, 
and the sanity of the other restored, so that he was delivered 
from that poison of hatred, and learned to love more than all 
the rest that Brother, whom formerly he could not look upon 
without intense dislike. Let this be enough for examples 
of the vice of envy. 

Because this vice seems to be more hateful than all others 
to God who is love, therefore it is more to be shunned by 
every man than any other vice. 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

Of accidie and her daughters. 

Accidie holds the fourth place, and is a vice very apt to 
tempt the Religious. 

Novice .—The name of this vice has a somewhat barbarous 
sound ; I should like to know what accidie is, and from 
what its name is derived. 

Mon \.—Accidie is a depression born from a troubled 
mind ; or a sense of weariness and excessive bitterness of 
heart, by which spiritual happiness is caft out, and the judg¬ 
ment is overthrown by a headlong fall into dispair. It is 
called accidie, as if it were an acid, which makes all spiritual 
exercises bitter and insipid to us. Seneca says of it: “ Great 
are the losses that arise from negligence.” The progeny cf 
accidie or depression are : malice, rancour, cowardice, despair, 

2Z 3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


relu&ance to obey, and the Straying of the thoughts into for¬ 
bidden places. Accidie is a common temptation and throws 
many into despair. 

Novice. —Please give examples of the temptations of this 
vice. 

Mon\. —Hear how dangerous it is to be attacked by accidie. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Of a mon\ whom accidie prevented from rising for 
his morning vigil. 

The devil had, as was shown by the event, filled a certain 
monk so full of accidie, that whenever the time came to get 
up for matins, he was immediately covered with sweat from 
a kind of cowardice and fear of the service. Thinking this 
to be caused by sickness, he lay Still, drawing the clothes over 
him again, and as a door, according to the Proverb of Solomon 
turneth upon its hinges, so did that sluggard turn upon his 
bed (Prov. xxvi. 14). One night when all the reSt got up at 
the sound of the bell, and hastened to the divine office, he 
also tried to rise, but lay down again at the bidding of accidie ; 
and then he heard from under his bed an unknown voice 
saying to him quite clearly : “ Do not get up, do not interrupt 
your sweating, because it is not good for you.” Then for 
the firSt time he realised that he was being mocked by the 
devil through the vice of accidie, and shook himself free from 
that imaginary sweat, and never again consented readily to 
such slothfulness. Be sure of this, that the devil is not per¬ 
mitted to tempt us either as much or as long as he would like, 
leSt we should be deceived by him and perish. Often is he 
compelled by the power of God to disclose his deceit to those 
whom he is tempting. 


224 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of a pried, upon whom the Crucified turned his 
bac\ when he went to sleep over his prayers. 

One of our monks, who was a prieSt, was accustomed, after 
matins had been said, in that interval which the Brethren are 
wont to spend in prayer or Psalms, to compose himself on 
one of the benches and go to sleep over his prayer. The 
Lord, wishing to show him, that this hour and place were 
not for sleeping but for watch and prayer, appeared to him 
upon the cross, with His back turned towards him, as if to 
say: “ Because thou art lukewarm and full of accidie, thou 
art not worthy to behold my face.” He himself testified 
that this had happened to him more than once. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Of the temptations and visions of Chriflian, a 
mon\ of Heitterbach. 

Another of our monks called Christian, was a youth indeed 
in age, but of a life so holy that he was looked upon as one 
of God’s saints upon the earth ; but he was so infirm of body, 
that he grew very weary of life. One night in the interval 
between matins and lauds, wishing to ease the pain in his 
head, he proStrated himself upon the Steps of one of the altars, 
and there went to sleep in the attitude of prayer. No sooner 
were his eyes closed, than there appeared to him our glorious 
Lady, the Virgin Mary, who Struck him with her robe and 
awoke him saying : “ Christian, this is not the place for sleep, 
but for prayer.” At once he awoke, and with open eyes saw 
the back of a female figure disappearing, and heard a gentle 
voice saying the laSt words of the above sentence. 

225 

15 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —I understand well from the case of this youth, 
that all weariness of good works does not arise from vice, 
but that sometimes it comes from body infirmity. 

Mon\. —All temptation and infirmity are the result of 
Adam’s sin ; from his fault we have incurred seven penalties ; 
to wit, hunger, thirft, cold, heat, lassitude, sickness, death. 
When the aftion of these penalties is controlled, we are liable 
to punishment but not to guilt ; when it is unrestrained, wt 
incur both punishment and guilt. 

Novice. —To what do you give the name of lassitude? 

Mon\. —Sleepiness, or fatigue from any kind of labour. 
Let us be careful then, left that which is natural be turned 
into vice ; because vices are generated not only from natural 
qualities, by their abuse, but even from virtues. For example, 
when juftice goes beyond due limit, it becomes cruelty ; too 
much pity becomes weakness ; intemperate zeal becomes 
anger ; excess of gentleness deserves the names of laziness 
and accidie ; and so you may judge about the reft. 

Novice. —I think that this youth muft have been of no 
small merit, since the Blessed Virgin aroused him in so 
familiar a fashion. 

Mon\. —Of how great merit he was, and how dear to the 
citizens of the heavenly country will be shown by what fol¬ 
lows. Though, on account of his severe pains in the head, 
he had received in the Chapter a general licence to ftay away 
from solemn vigils whenever he wished, he scarcely ever was 
absent from the choir except when absolutely obliged. In¬ 
deed, after the matins for the sick, he would return to the 
church and habitually ftay there longer than the Rule 
demanded. One day our abbot, Dom Henry, then a simple 
monk, said to him: “ Good brother Chriftian, you often tell 
us about your severe headaches, and yet you will not use the 
indulgence granted you,” and he answered: “ I simply can¬ 
not ftay away ; for when I ftand outside the choir and hear 
the others chanting, my heart is tortured that I cannot go in, 
because I remember the consolations with which God delights 
my soul when I am among them.” When he heard this the 
lord abbot, taking advantage of his special friendship, asked 
him what these consolations were, and, after much insiftent 

226 



Of Temptation 


entreaty, succeeded in getting him to speak. He told him, 
that often, when he was in the choir during the Psalms, he 
saw blessed angels passing round, and, what was far more 
glorious, the King of angels Himself the Man Christ Jesus. 

Novice .—Truly great gifts were vouchsafed to this youth ! 

Mon\. —Yes, ana deservedly. For ever since he came to 
the Order, he had never been without temptation both from 
his severe pains in the head, and also in his longing for the 
heavenly country. He bore this scourge from the Lord with 
so much patience as to aflonish all his brethren. Once the 
Lord, who is no tempter of the wicked, took away from him 
the grace of tears, which he had bountifully beftowed upon 
him, and this was a sore trial. 

Novice .—Before you go further, I should like to know 
why God takes away graces of this kind from holy men. 

Mon \.—That withdrawal seems to me to have four causes: 
firft, that the grace may not be cheapened by uninterrupted 
continuity ; second, that the heart may not be lifted up with 
pride by it’s enjoyment ; third, that it may be sought with 
greater eagerness, and may be cherished more diligently when 
regained ; and the fourth cause is venial sin. 

Novice .—I like what you say. 

Mon\.— Chriftian, indeed, grieved bitterly for the lost 
grace, and, impudng the loss to his sins, prayed night and 
day for its recovery, but without success ; and then he remem¬ 
bered the Lord’s cross, and said within himself: “ If I could 
but kiss the precious wood on which the Saviour shed his 
blood, I should recover my grace of tears.” Full of this long¬ 
ing, on a certain feSlival, he went to the altar after mass and 
kissed the sacred wood, and lo 1 he recovered the loft grace 
more abundantly than before. 

Novice .—We have two crosses ; will you tell me which of 
them it was? 

Mon \.—That which came from Apulia, the wood of which 
is black. At that time we had not the other, which is red : 
this was given us by Henry of Ulmen, and had been taken 
from the church of S. Sophia in Constantinople. 

Novice .—I should like to know by what sort of death a 
man of so much grace departed from the world. 


r2 7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —Often he noticed an aromatic odour rising from 
his hands, so Strong that he marvelled at it, and could say 
with the Bride, whose member he was, quite literally: My 
hands dropped with myrrh and my fingers with sweet smell¬ 
ing myrrh (Cant. v. 5). 

Novice. —Perchance he had hands that were undefiled P 

Mon\. —Know that he was not virgin in body, that you 
may understand that the odour arose more from virtue of the 
soul than from virginity. Yet he too, like everyone else, did 
lose spiritual grace by giving way to bodily appetite. Al¬ 
though he was weak and sickly, yet for many days before 
his death he was Still more searchingly purged in the furnace 
of pain, and purified like gold in the fire. One night in 
sleep the holy martyr and virgin Agatha appeared to him and 
among other comforting words, said : “ Christian, let not this 
sickness seem burdensome to you, because these sixty days 
will be counted to you for sixty years.” When he awoke, he 
told this to certain others, because he did not understand the 
meaning of the vision ; and some interpreted it as meaning 
that the bitterness of that sickness would purge away his sins 
as much as sixty years in purgatory. Others thought, with 
surer insight, that the pain of those sixty days and the patience 
with which it was borne would have for him the merit of 
sixty years. It was on the Vigil of S. Agatha, which was the 
sixtieth day from the night in which the message came to him, 
that he surrendered his soul to God. That you may know 
how true is the word of the prophet: The son shall not bear 
the iniquity of the father (Ezek. xviii. 30), I mufl tell you that 
this monk was the son of a clerk who was a canon of the 
Cathedral of Bonn. 

Novice. —I have heard that some have been greatly terrified 
because they were not of legitimate birth. It would be good 
for them to hear such a Story as this. 

Mon\. —Whether they be legitimate, or the sons of forni¬ 
cation, or adultery or inceSt, all men before baptism are held 
bound by the same chain. For all of us are born children of 
wrath ; by baptism we are made children of grace ; but 
those alone are blessed, who by a good life and final grace 
will be counted amongSt the children of glory. What you 

228 



Of Temptation 


say recalls to my memory how a saintly lay-brother, the son 
of a saintly prieJl, was so tempted by the fact of his birth, so 
saddened and troubled, that he almost fell into despair. 

Novice. —May I know the outcome of his temptation? 

Mon\.—\ knew him myself, but what I am going to tell 
you I heard from an abbot who was his familiar friend. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

Of Henry, the lay-brother of Villers, who was griev¬ 
ously tempted because he was an illegitimate son. 

The name of the lay-brother was Henry ; he took the vows 
in Villers, and was the son of Dom Chriflian, a monk of 
Hemmenrode. Of Chriflian 1 will tell you wonderful things 
in the sixteenth chapter of the seventh book—how this Henry 
served in a hospital for the poor, and was a man of much 
humility, padence and compassion, and because he feared God 
so much, feared all the more to be separated from Him. 
For the devil had put into his heart a kind of despair, as if he 
said: “ Because thou art not a son of legitimate birth, thou 
shalt not be an heir of the kingdom of Heaven." This 
thought became such an obsession to him, that he could take 
none of the consolation set before him by his confessors, 
whether from the Scriptures, or from examples. But God 
had mercy upon him, and one night, when the temptation 
was overwhelming, He carried him in his sleep to a huge 
building, in which He showed him a vafl multitude both of 
men and women ; and a voice said to him: “ Henry, seeft 
thou this multitude? they are all indeed of legitimate birth, 
but all are reprobate, except thyself.” Immediately awak¬ 
ing, he rejoiced with great joy, because he underflood that 
the vision had come for his sake. From that moment the 
temptation ceased, and as long as he lived he gave thanks to 
God, who forsafeth not them that hope in Him (Judith xiii. 
17. Vulg.). 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —Is it accidie to sleep in church ? 

Mon \.— Habit has engendered out of it the vice of accidie, 
because some palliate it, by calling it infirmity, while in truth 
this vice arises much more from the work of the devil, than 
from infirmity. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of the serpent, which brother Conrad saw on the 
bac\ of a lay-brother, who was asleep in the choir. 

Once when I was talking with a very religious lay-brother 
of ours of those who frequently fall asleep in our choir, he 
said: “Be very sure that such somnolence is of the devil ; 
for one day in the summer, when lauds were being sung, I 
saw in broad daylight a serpent creeping over the back of 
brother William, who often allows himself to go to sleep in 
his &all, and forthwith I realised that it was the devil, who 
was feeding upon his somnolence.” He said that he had 
often seen a vision of this kind in connexion with this same 
lay-brother, and brother Richard bore the same testimony. 
The lay-brother who saw this was named Conrad, about 
whom I shall tell you many more excellent things in the eighth 
book. The devil tempts and harries many through somno¬ 
lence, and this in different ways. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Of a lay-brother, whose eyes were closed by a cat, 
when he was giving way to sleep in the choir. 

In Hemmenrode there was a certain lay-brother, who was 
full of accidie in church, and almost always went to sleep. 


230 



Of Temptation 


On his head another lay-brother often saw a cat sitting, and 
as soon as it placed its paws upon this brother’s eyes, immed¬ 
iately he began to yawn. Now when he learnt this from him 
to whom the vision had been vouchsafed, he determined that 
the devil should mock him no longer, and so prepared his 
Stall in such a way that if its occupants went to sleep, it should 
slip and throw him to the ground. Thus the demon of som¬ 
nolence was shaken off by this device, and the lazy brother 
grew more fervent in the service of God. This was told me 
by a lay-brother of the same convent. 

How sorely the demons mock those who sleep in such a 
place, you shall learn from the following example. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Of the mon\ Fredericwho went to sleep in the 
choir, and was flruc^ in the face by the devil with 
wisp of Slraw. 

One of our monks called Frederick, though a good man 
in all other respecfls, was notorious for his vice of somnolence. 
One night, before our convent went out from Hemmenrode, 
he went to sleep during the singing of the Psalms at matins, 
and in his sleep saw a tall and misshapen man standing in 
front of him, holding in his hand a filthy wisp of Straw, such 
as grooms use for rubbing down horses. This man looked 
at the monk with an impudent leer, and said : “ Why SlandeSI 
thou here, sleeping all night long, thou son of the Great 
Lady? ” and then Struck him over the face with the filthy 
Straw. He woke at once in terror, and drawing back instinc¬ 
tively from the blow. Struck his head sharply againSt the wall. 
You may imagine what merriment among the reSt of the 
monks ! 


231 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of a mon\, round whom a number of hogs were 
seen to be crowding, while he was asleep in his Hall. 

Not long ago I heard a Story which I ought not to leave 
untold. In the same monastery there is a monk, who nearly 
always goes to sleep during the office, so that it is rare that he 
ever opens his mouth in the Psalms. Round him hogs are 
often seen, and their gruntings heard ; I think because they 
are feeding upon the husks that fall from his mouth. 

Novice. —What are these husks, and what do they signify ? 

Mon\. —Husks are empty pods, and they signify the words 
of the Psalms robbed of all goodness, such as are uttered by 
the somnolent without any real meaning ; and these words, 
thus half-heartedly spoken, are only thrown out to be picked 
up by swine, that is, by demons. But they who are fully 
awake and sing with heart and soul, they who chant the 
psalms with genuine intention, are fed with all their sweet¬ 
ness, because they reap the grace which lies beneath the pro¬ 
phetic words. These in the future life, together with the 
singers of the heavenly Jerusalem, will be fed by the Lord 
with the flour of wheat (Ps. cxlvii. 14), that is, the vision of 
His Godhead. 

Novice. —I gather clearly from what you have said that 
weariness in spiritual exercises comes from the devil. 

Mon\. —It is as you say ; because there are some, who, as 
soon as they begin to chant, to pray, or to read, are immed¬ 
iately oppressed with sleep ; on their beds they lie awake, 
in the church they are full of sleep. The same thing is true 
about hearing the word of God ; when they listen to worldly 
speech, they are wakeful enough ; but when the word of 
God is expounded, they quickly fall asleep. 


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Of [Temptation 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Of the lord abbot Gevard, who by the Slory of 
Arthur, roused the monies who were asleep during 
his sermon. 

When the abbot Gevard, the predecessor of the present 
abbot, was preaching to us in the Chapterhouse on a certain 
feflival, several of the Brethren, chiefly lay-brothers, went to 
sleep, and some even began to snore. He noticed this and 
cried out: “ Liflen, brethren, liflen ; I have something new 
and important to tell you: There was once a king named 
Arthur ”—there he flopped, and then went on: “ You see, 
my brothers, to how sad a pass we have come ; when I was 
speaking to you about God, you fell asleep ; but as soon as 
I began a secular flory, you all woke up, and began to liflen 
with eager ears.” I myself was present at that sermon. But 
the devil uses somnolence to tempt and hinder, not only 
spiritual persons, but those also who are in the world. 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Of the knight Henry, who made his Lent with us, 
and of the Hone on which he slept during prayers. 

A certain knight of Bonn named Henry once made his 
Lent with us. After he had returned home, he met one day 
the before-mentioned abbot Gevard, and said to him : “ My 
lord abbot, I wish you would sell me that ftone which is close 
to a certain column in your church ; I will give you anything 
you like to ask for it.” When he answered : “ What good 
would it be to you? ” the other said: “ I want to put it at 
my bedside, because it is of such a nature, that, if anyone who 
cannot sleep should refl his head upon it, he will go to sleep 


233 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


at once.” During the penitential season the devil had 
wrought this snare for him, that as soon as he came to the 
church and reeled his head upon this Stone to pray, sleep 
immediately crept over him. Another noble, who had made 
his penitence in Hemmenrode, is reported to have said : “ The 
Stones of that abbey church are softer than any bed in my 
caStle ” ; for he could not help going to sleep upon them 
at the time of prayer. 

Novice —If accidie in the service of God were not a 
grievous fault, the devil would not so eagerly invite us to it. 

Mon\. —How great is the guilt of this vice, let the 
punishment of one who was full of it, make clear to you. 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Of a mon\ who frequently slept in the choir, and 
who was smitten on the chee\ by the Crucified, and 
died. 

It is only two months ago that the lord abbot of Kamper 
KloSt told me a very terrible thing about a monk who was 
always accustomed to sleep in church. One night when 
he was sleeping as usual while the others were chanting, the 
Crucified came down from the altar, aroused the sleeper, and 
Struck him with so much force upon the cheek that he died 
within three days. 

Novice. —This that you tell me is Stupendous ! 

Mon\. —A lazy monk provokes the wrath of God and of 
His holy angels.—Wherefore it is said by ChriSt, through 
John, to all those affli&ed with accidie, in the person of one 
(Apoc. iii. 15, 16). 

Novice. —I remember that you said above that accidie and 
melancholy were the same vice. 

Mon\. —It is true, because accidie is melancholy that is 
born from disturbance of mind ; and from this are born 
malice and despair, as I will show you in the next example. 

234 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Of a young recluse, who doubted the exigence of 
God and the angels, and was ta\en out of her body 
and in the spirit saw angels and souls, and then 
returned to the body. 

Laft year the abbot of Brumback told our abbot about a 
very terrible temptation which sprang from melancholy, and 
this is what he said: “ There was in our province a maiden 
of marriageable age, very beautiful, and the daughter of rich 
parents. These parents wished her to marry, but she refused, 
saying: “ I will not marry anyone except my Heavenly 
Spouse, the Lord Jesus.” At laft the parents, worn out with 
the obftinacy of the maiden, allowed her to do as she pleased. 
She, giving thanks as if for viftory, caused to be made for 
herself a cell, in which she was veiled and enclosed by the 
bishop, and in her solitude served Christ alone with great 
devotion for several days. 

But the devil in hatred of so much virtue shook her with 
various temptations, and, inflaming the innocent heart of the 
virgin with the poison of melancholy, brought her in full 
health to sickness. Soon she began to be tossed to and fro 
with all kinds of thoughts, to waver in her faith, and to 
despair of being able to persevere. She was attacked also 
by weakness of heart, by wafting of the body, by sluggishness 
in prayer and by grief for her seclusion. 

Now while the maiden was thus perilously wavering, the 
aforesaid abbot of the Ciftercian Order, to whose care she 
had been entrufted by the bishop, came to make her a visita¬ 
tion, and asked how she was, and how she fared ; to whom 
she replied: “ Ill am I, and ill do I fare, and I cannot under- 
ftand why or for whom I am secluded here ” ; and when the 
abbot said to her : “ For God and the kingdom of heaven ” ; 
she answered : “ Who knows if there be a God, or any angels 
with Him ? or any souls, or any kingdom of heaven ? Who 
has ever seen such things, who has ever come back to tell us 
what he has seen? ” When the abbot heard such words, 

2 35 



The Dialogue on^Miracles 

he trembled from head to foot, and turning to the virgin, 
said: “What is this you say, sifter? make the sign of the 
cross over your breaft.’’ She replied : “ I say what I think ; 
unless I can see these things, I will not believe. I beg you 
to let me go out of this place, because I can no longer endure 
this seclusion.” 

Then the abbot, realising that such sudden melancholy and 
despair could only arise from the inftigation of the devil, 
said: “ Sifter, the enemy of souls is grievously tempting you, 
because he envies your glory, but do thou ftand faft in the 
faith, be Hrong and He shall comfort thine heart, and put 
thou thy truH in the Lord (Ps. xxvii. 16). Againft the wishes 
of your friends and relations, you yourself chose this holy 
life, you yourself longed for this seclusion.” And when she 
received with deaf ears his words of advice and exhortation, 
the abbot asked her to ftay there for at leaft a week, until 
he could go to the monaftery and return and visit her again. 
When with difficulty he had obtained her promise, he went 
to the monaftery and laid before the brethren the peril of 
the virgin, and urged them ail to pour forth to God with 
heartfelt devotion special prayers for her during the coming 
week ; and he himself besought God on her behalf with 
great earneftness. 

When the week was over, he went back to her and said: 
“ How fare you now, my daughter ? ” and she replied: 
“ Very well indeed, my Father. Never was I better. My 
joy and consolation during these seven days have been far 
greater than all my sadness and despair before your coming.” 
And when he asked her the cause of her happiness she said: 
“ Father, I have seen with my own eyes those whose exiftence 
I doubted ; after you left me, my soul was rapt from my body, 
and I saw holy angels, I saw the souls of the blessed, I saw 
the rewards of the juft. I saw also with the eyes of my soul 
my own body lying on the floor of my cell, as bloodless and 
pallid as withered herbage whose sap was all withdrawn.” 

When asked by the abbot of the appearance of the soul, 
she said that it was a spiritual subftance, that its form was 
spherical, something like the globe of the moon, and that it 
was full of eyes. She said further that when either an angel 

236 



Of Temptation 


or a soul appeared to any one who was ftill in the body, the 
apparition always assumed a material form. But when a 
soul is delivered from the burden of the flesh, then it appears 
actually as it is to any other soul in the like condition. 

Novice. —This vision agrees closely with that of the abbot 
of Morimond, who, when he came back from the dead, said 
that his soul was like glass, and had eyes on every side, as I 
remember you said in the thirty second chapter of the firft 
book. 

Monk. ■—The same recluse brought back also certain in¬ 
formation about the coming of Antichrift, which I am unwill¬ 
ing to set down here, because many have been deceived by 
such prophecies. 

Novice. —It fills me with terror to think that the Lord 
allowed so holy, so pure, so virginal a soul to be harassed 
with these foul and awful temptations. 

Mon\. —Unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways 
paft finding out, as you will hear from the temptations of 
another man, and whose temptation was all the more alarm¬ 
ing, as it is uncertain how it finally resulted. 


CHAPTER XL. 

Of a nun, who in her doubt and despair, threw her¬ 
self into the Moselle. 

A few months ago, a certain nun, a woman of advanced 
age and of great reputed saniftity, was so much troubled by 
the vice of melancholy, and so much harassed by the spirit 
of blasphemy, doubt and diftruft, that she fell into despair. 
She began to disbelieve utterly all those articles of the faith 
which she had accepted from infancy, and which it was her 
bounden duty to accept; and she refused to take any further 
share in the blessed Sacrament. When the sifters, and among 
them her own niece, asked her why she was thus hardened, 

237 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


she replied : “ I am reprobate,” that is, “ I am one of those 
appointed to eternal ruin.” One day the prior, greatly 
moved, said to her: “ My sifter, unless you come back to 
your senses from this unbelief, I cannot allow you, after death, 
to be buried in consecrated ground. “ When she heard this, 
she made no reply, but could not forget his words. 

A little after this, some of the sifters had to make a journey ; 
she ftole out after them to the bank of the Moselle, by which 
the convent is situated, and as soon as the boat carrying the 
sifters had left the shore, she threw herself into the river. 
Those in the boat heard the splash, but when they looked 
back, they thought that the objecft in the water was only a 
dog ; there was, however, in the mercy of God, a man on 
the bank, who ran quickly to the place to see with greater 
certainty, and finding that it was indeed a human body, he 
went into the water and drew her to the shore. By this time 
others had come up, and when they saw that it was this poor 
nun, nearly drowned, they were filled with alarm, and did 
all they could to reftore her. 

At laft they succeeded, and as soon as she had brought up 
the water she had swallowed, and was able to speak, they 
asked her : “ Why, sifter, did you do such a terrible thing? ” 
And she answered : “ The prior there,” pointing with her 
finger, “ threatened that, when I died, he would have to bury 
me in unconsecrated ground ; and rather than be buried 
in the open field like a beaft, I thought it would be better to 
be carried down the river.” Then they took her back again 
to the monaftery, and watched over her with greater care 
than before. 

You see what misery can be produced by melancholia ; 
this woman had been brought up in the convent from child¬ 
hood ; she was a virgin, chafte, devout, scrupulous and 
punftual in her religious duties ; and I have been told by 
the prioress of the neighbouring convent that the girls edu¬ 
cated by her were better disciplined and more devout than 
any of the others. But God is very pitiful, and makes trial 
of His eleft: in many ways, and I cannot but believe, that He, 
who so mercifully delivered her from drowning, will have 
regard to her former good works, and will not suffer her to 

238 



Of Temptation 


perish at the laSt. I could give you many recent examples 
of this kind of melancholia, but I fear that the hearing or 
reading of such things would give no help to the weak. 

Novice .—You have already shown me how nothing 
happens without good reason, and I think that perhaps God 
permits such things, that no one, however far perfected, may 
presume upon his virtues or good works, but may refer every¬ 
thing to God, from whom alone are derived both the will 
and the power for every good work. 

Mon \.—What you say is true ; and that is why Lot’s dis¬ 
obedient wife was turned into a pillar of salt, to be a warning 
to the wicked, and a Stimulus to the well-doer. 


CHAPTER XL1. 

Of a lay-brother, who, in despair, drowned himself 
in a fishpond. 

It is scarcely three years ago since excess of melancholy 
brought final despair upon a certain lay-brother. In speaking 
or writing of these terrible tragedies, I am unwilling to men¬ 
tion the names of places or persons, or to hint at the Order 
involved, left I should seem to be calling reflection upon any 
of my fellow Religious. This brother was well known to 
me ; from his youth to old age he had lived both respeCted 
and liked by all his brethren, so that none in all the Order 
seemed Stricter than he in the observance of the Rule, or more 
endowed with virtues ; seldom would he speak, and seldom 
use the accustomed relaxations of the Rule. Yet by some 
incomprehensible judgment of God, he grew so melancholy 
and call down, that he became completely obsessed with fear 
of his sins, and altogether despairing of eternal life. It was 
not that he was troubled with any lack of faith, but rather 
that he loSt all hope of salvation ; by no authority of scrip¬ 
ture could he be lifted up, by no examples be restored to the 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


hope of pardon ; though it is believed that he had never been 
a great sinner. When his brethren asked him what it was 
that he feared, and why he despaired, he would reply: “ I 
cannot say my prayers as I used, and so I am afraid of hell.” 
Because he was afflifted with this vice of melancholy, accidie 
laid hold of him, and from the two despair was born in his 
heart. Placed in the infirmary, one morning, having deter¬ 
mined upon death, he went to his superior and said: “ 1 
cannot fight againft God any longer. The other took little 
heed of his words, but he went away to the fish-pond near 
the monastery, threw himself in and was drowned. 


CHAPTER XLII. 

Of a nun, who, driven mad by a wicked lay-brother, 
threw herself into a well. 

A somewhat similar thing took place laft year in a convent 
of nuns, though the motive was different. I was told by a 
nun of the same Order, that one of the sifters was so driven 
mad by the magic arts of a miserable brother, who was clothed 
in the habit, but not in the spirit of a Religious, that she 
could not endure the temptations that he had put into her 
heart. She would not tell her trouble to anyone, but only 
said: “ I want to go out, I want to get away, because I am 
sorry that I ever came here ” ; and when they would not 
allow her to go, her melancholy increased ftill more, and 
when once she found herself alone, she threw herself into the 
well, and died. When they sought her everywhere and could 
not find her, one of the sifters remembered that she had 
threatened to drown herself in the well ; the well was 
searched, and she was found there dead. It was almoft at 
the same time, that this miserable lay-brother by similar 
wickedness enticed a nun from another convent and corrupted 
her, and she, poor soul, never came back from the world. 


240 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XLIII. 

Of a young girl, who hanged herself from melan¬ 
cholia, at finding herself despised by her lover. 

Thirteen years ago, when our monks were returning up 
the Rhine in a barge from the harveft, they came to a hamlet 
near Cologne, called Rodinkirch, and found a young girl 
lying upon the ground, recently dead. It was said about her 
that she had given birth to a child by a certain man, and 
because he had repudiated her, she had taken her life in the 
violence of her despair. 


CHAPTER XLIV. 

Of a youth who had gambled away his clothes, and 
hanged himself in despair. 

There was a certain youth at Cologne, some time before 
this, who had gambled away his clothes, and was rendered 
so miserable by this loss, that he went up to the solar of his 
house and hanged himself. You see how dangerous melan¬ 
choly is, when it is not in accordance with the will of God. 

Novice .—What are we to think of the souls of these ? 

Monl (.—If the cause be only melancholy and despair, not 
madness or wandering of the mind, there can be little doubt 
that they are damned. In the case of those who are mad cr 
weak minded, in whom the power of reason is loft, they are 
assuredly saved, however they die, if they were in a ftate of 
grace before the madness took them. Of the lay-brother 
mentioned above a wise man, who knew him well, said this 
in my hearing: “ I do not think that he ever made an honest 
confession.” For God, in His righteous judgment, may 
sometimes allow the juft, who fear Him, to wander in their 
senses, yet He will not suffer them to end by so miserable a 
death. Here is an example. 


241 


16 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XLV. 

Of the mon\ Baldwin, formerly the advocate of 
Brunswic\. 

In Brunswick, a city of Saxony, there was a certain noble 
knight named Baldwin, who was advocate of the town. He, 
through the Holy Spirit left the world and took the habit in 
a house of our Order, called Rittershausen. For the whole 
year of his probation, he showed himself so scrupulous, that 
the abbot and the master of the novices often remonstrated 
with him. Further, when he became a monk, he was so full 
of fervour that the ordinary observances were not enough for 
him, and he added to them many special and private devo¬ 
tions. When the others ceased from labour, he Still toiled, 
when the reSt were sleeping, he Still watched. 

At length excessive vigils and labours affected his brain, and 
he incurred such violent headaches, that one night, before the 
convent arose for matins, he went into the church, climbed 
into the novices’ bench, tied the bell rope round his neck and 
leapt down, and by the weight of his body set the bell ringing. 
The sacriStan, alarmed, hurried into the church, and was 
terrified to see the monk hanging in such a fashion. None 
the less he ran up, and cut the cord, and laid down the quiver¬ 
ing and almoSt Strangled body, and brought him back to 
consciousness ; but though his life was restored, his reason 
never returned. It is said that he Still lives, but takes no heed 
of when or what he eats, or of how long he sleeps. Thus 
sometimes the vice of accidie is born of indiscreet fervour. 

Novice. —You said above that cowardice is also born of 
accidie or melancholy, but this does not seem to me to be a 
vice. 

Mon\.—An evil tree cannot bring forth good fruit (Matt, 
vii. 18). Although cowardice may seem to be less evil than 
the other daughters of accidie, yet the temptation to it is very 
dangerous ; for it often turns back those who desire to be 
converted to a good life, and often hinders the converted in 
their progress. 

Novice. —Give me an example. 


242 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XLVI. 

Of a Scholaflicus who carried out his year of proba¬ 
tion in the Benedidine Order, because he was afraid 
of our Rule of silence. 

Monk.—A BenediCtine abbot, who is now a monk in our 
Order told me that a certain Parisian teacher, who wished to 
join us, was, by cowardice of mind, so terrified of the Rule 
of silence imposed upon our novices, that he entered the 
Benedicfline Order, and there fulfilled his year of probation. 
As soon as he became a monk, he said to the convent, “ I 
thank you, my makers, for the kindness you have shown me, 
and I have fulfilled the purpose for which I came among 
you ; now with your permission I will go to the Cistercian 
Order. For I did not come here to Stay permanently, but that 
I might, amongSt you, conquer the temptations which terrified 
me.” Then he came to a house of our Order, and entered 
not as a novice, but as a full-fledged monk. 


CHAPTER XLVII. 

Of a prelate, who spo\e of the Order as a temptation. 

I remember a very learned man, who was bishop of a well 
known church. Not long ago, I asked him why he did not 
come to us, and why he was delaying so long, and he replied : 
“ I do not dare to enter into temptation,” calling the Strictness 
of our Order a temptation. For, long before, he had intended 
to join our Order, but had been prevented hitherto by 
cowardice. Whoso is too much afraid of being tempted in 
the Order, can scarcely be converted to the Order. I know 
many in the world, both clerks and lay-folk, who have long 
made their private vows, but nevertheless do not dare to be 
converted, through fear of temptations. They have always 


2 43 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


the temptations before their eyes, but do not realise the mani¬ 
fold defences that the Order provides. Here is an example. 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 

Of a \night who avoided the Order through fear of 
lice. 

Daniel, the abbot of Schonau, told me that a certain knight, 
honourable and renowned in military service, had become a 
monk in Kamper KloSt. He had a friend, another knight, 
equally renowned in arms, and one day when he was urging 
him to conversion, the other replied with a word of great 
cowardice: “ Indeed, my friend, I would perhaps join the 
Order, if there were not one thing I am really afraid of.” 
When the monk asked what that could be, the knight replied : 
“ The lice that infeSt your robes ” ; for indeed the woollen 
cloth does harbour a quantity of vermin. The other rejoined 
with a smile: “ Alack ! what a valiant soldier ! You, whom 
swords could not terrify when fighting for the devil, are you 
to be frightened by lice now that you are going to be a soldier 
of Christ? will you let vermin rob you of the Kingdom of 
God? ” Although he made no reply to these words at the 
time, yet a little later he gave his answer in what he did ; 
for, instigated both by the words and example of his friend, 
he entered the Order. 

Soon afterwards it happened that these two friends met at 
Cologne in the church of the Blessed Peter. The monk of 
Kamper KloSt greeted his friend in the usual way, and then 
added, smiling : “ How goes it, brother ? Are you Still afraid 
of the vermin?” The other, who had not forgotten the cause 
of this question, smiled too, and made a good answer, an 
answer well worthy to be remembered : “ Of one thing,” he 
said, “ you may be absolutely sure, my brother, that, if all the 
lice of all the monks in all the world were to concentrate upon 
my single body, they should not bite me out of the Order.” 

244 



Of Temptation 


And when his friend heard this, he rejoiced greatly, and 
repeated the ffory to many, that others also might be edified. 
You see how great bravery he gained, who before his conver¬ 
sion had been so pusillanimous. Whence could this come if 
not from the divine consolations that are found in the Order ? 
Let this be enough about those who are dissuaded from the 
Order by the vice of cowardice ; now liffen to examples of 
those, who after conversion have been tempted by this same 
vice, and hindered from spiritual progress. 


CHAPTER XLIX. 

Of the temptations of Godfrey, the Scholaliicus of 
Cologne. 

Godfrey the scholafficus of S. Andrew’s in Cologne, came 
to the Order with great ffeadfaffness and zeal, when he was 
already a man both old and infirm. We were novices 
together, and I both saw and heard how many and various 
were the temptations with which he was harassed. 

One day when he was in a hurry to go to church, and was 
trying to put on his cassock, the devil interfered with him, and 
roughly dragged the cassock back, again and again. At laSt, 
after a good deal of useless effort, he recognised that it was 
the devil who was hindering him; whereupon he ceased to pull 
at his cassock, but put the enemy to flight with the sign of the 
cross and had no further trouble. 

When he was now drawing near the end of his year of 
probation, the devil began to bring back to his mind all the 
various advantages he had enjoyed in the world, and also to 
put before him the many disadvantages that seemed to await 
him in the Order, as for example, the heavy robes, the long 
vigils and silence, the heat in summer and the cold in winter, 
the repeated faffs and slender diet, and other such things. 
Now when he thought of all these, he became so pusillanimous 

245 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


that he despaired altogether of his ability to persevere ; and he 
said to me : “I did not know that the rule of the Order was so 
severe ; till now I had always thought that those who had 
been bled, ate flesh, and that the monks undressed to go to bed. 
I am sorry that I ever came hither ; and I have made up my 
mind to take into my own hands again the services of my 
church at Herlisheim, of which I am paftor, and which is now 
in unsatisfactory hands ; and I hope that, by the grace of God, 
I may be able to guide, honourably and peacefully, the people 
there committed to my charge.” 

I answered: “ This is a temptation from the devil, who is 
trying to deceive you under an appearance of good.” Then 
he said: “ If this plan is not good, I will go back to my pre¬ 
bend, and choose for myself some room within the precincts 
of the cloifters where I may live so scrupulously that others 
may be edified by my example ; I will be at all the services, 
and I will give to the poor all that I can take from my own 
needs.” 

To which I replied : “ This too is the advice of the devil. 
If you should go back, you will be a derision to all; and he 
who persuaded you, he it is who will drive you back into 
your former sins.” 

While he was thus wavering, one day I was sitting by his 
side, and trying to think how I might comfort him, when he 
snatched up the psalter, opened it and said : “ Let us see what 
my brethren will say of me if I go back.” The fir£t verse 
that his eyes fell upon was this: They who sat in the gate 
spa\e again[l me, and the drunkards made songs upon me. 
And at once he cried out: “ A true prophecy! See,” he said, 
“ I will expound this prophecy to you; if I go back to S. 
Andrew’s, my brother canons, as often as they sit in the church 
porch will speak againfl; me, passing their judgments upon 
me and disputing about my hopes of salvation; further at 
night, when they are sitting round the fire, and idly drinking, 
I shall be the subject of their song.” And so by the mercy of 
God, he came back to his better mind, and was comforted, 
became a monk, and dying not long afterwards in a good 
contrition, departed to be with the Lord. 


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Of Temptation 


CHAPTER L. 

Also of the temptations of Rener, his successor. 

Rener succeeded Brother Godfrey as scholaflicus of this same 
church of S. Andrew’s; and after the death of the latter, became 
a novice among us, and began to be tormented by various 
temptations to such an extent that he became sorely troubled, 
and one day said to Dom Gevard the abbot: “ I cannot Slay 
here any longer, because 1 can no longer endure the Order.” 
When the abbot asked him where he intended to go, he 
replied; “ I muft return to my prebend.” Then the abbot, 
being a wise man, pretended great anger, and cried out as if 
to a servant: “ Bring me an axe.” And when the novice 
asked him what he wanted an axe for, he said : “ That your 
feet may be cut off. For believe me, I would much rather 
keep you without your feet, than let you go away and bring 
shame upon our house.” Then the other smiled and said: 
“ Then I think I had better flay.” And so this temptation, 
flrong as it was, was driven away by a jefl. 

Novice .—According to my idea, this novice was easily 
tempted and easily cured. 

Mon \.—You will see this more fully in the following 
chapter. 


CHAPTER LI. 

Of a novice who when he had finished his year of 
probation refused to allow himself to be tonsured. 

A certain novice in Hemmenrode had passed his year of 
probation quite tranquilly, and had expressed in the chapter- 
house his determination to remain fleadfafl. The day came 
when he was to be tonsured as a monk, and when he who was 
to shave him was firopping the razor at that moment, the devil 
so depressed the youth and filled him with cowardice, that he 

247 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


changed his mind and would not suffer the razor to approach 
him. Dom Herman, the abbot of MarienSlatt, who was then 
our prior, seeing this, ran up with a sort of pretended jocu¬ 
larity, put both arms round the youth’s neck, and telling him 
that this depression came from the instigation of the devil, 
quickly brought back his wavering mind to tranquillity. 
Moreover when the temptation was gone, the face of the youth 
grew calm, to the wonder of all present, and he allowed him¬ 
self to be shorn. As the aforesaid monk told me, the face of 
the novice had been so suddenly changed, that the dark flush 
on his cheeks and the trembling of his lips showed very plainly 
the thoughts of his heart. 

Novice. —This is another example of what I said, that with 
novices temptation comes lightly, and lightly goes. 

Monl^. —But there are temptations of novices so severe and 
Strong that neither words nor examples can restrain them, 
but only the power and comfort of God. 


CHAPTER LII. 

Of a novice tempted by the spirit of blasphemy, who 
was delivered in contemplating the crucifix. 

A certain novice in the time of his probation was very 
grievously tormented by a temptation of the devil such as he 
had never experienced before his conversion. This temptation 
was concerning the Incarnation of the Word, not that he had 
heretical views upon the subje<ft, but the devil Strove by the 
spirit of blasphemy to quench the fervour of his heart, so 
that while he was in doubt, he might refuse to endure the 
labours of the religious life for Christ’s sake. 

One day when at Prime he was Standing opposite the altar 
in the choir of the novices, he saw with nis bodily eyes the 
image of the Crucified coming to him through the air, as if 
to say: “ Why doSt thou doubt ? Look upon Me. I am He, 

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Of Temptation 


who was born and suffered for thy sake.” For some time the 
image remained suspended before his eyes, and all he could 
see of it was from the waiSt and upwards. When I asked 
him if he knew what this signified, he replied: “ The Lord 
granted me this grace, that I might never be able to think of 
Him with any impure thought ; and so I understood that He 
deigned to show me only the upper part of His body.” 

From that hour there ceased altogether that temptation 
which before no confession and no prayers could heal. But 
although this particular temptation ceased, the efforts of the 
tempter Still continued; for when he found that he could not 
overthrow him by blasphemy, he tried to conquer him by 
accidie. For many days, when the time came to go to the 
church for the canonical hours, as soon as he reached the door 
of his cell, the devil weighed down his shoulders so Strongly 
and heavily, that he was compelled to sit down again and 
reSt. When he became a monk, he grew so vigorous and 
fervent in all the duties of the Order, that he knew no weari¬ 
ness, no matter with what kind of accidie he was assailed. 


CHAPTER LIII. 

Of the temptations of a novice, and how he was 
brought bac\ to the right path by a notturnal vision 
of two roads. 

Philip, the abbot of Ottenburg, told our abbot of a very 
grievous temptation which beset one of his novices, and which 
was laid to reSf only by the revelation of God. When the 
temptation was so sore that none could console him, and he had 
made up his mind to leave the monaSfery, on the very night 
before the day on which he had determined to return to the 
world, there came to him the following dream. 

He seemed to be Standing before a gate from which ran two 
roads, one on this side and one on that; one of them bent to 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

the right, and the other to the left ; but each led into a wood 
that lay opposite. While the novice was Standing at the fork, 
and debating with himself which he should choose, he was 
aware of the presence of an old man at his side; to whom he 
said : “ Good sir, if you know, will you tell me which of these 
two roads is the more dire<A, and gives the better travelling?” 
The other replied: “ I will explain them to you fully and 
clearly : this road on the right, as it passes through the wood, 
is short indeed, but thorny, hilly, muddy and rough. After¬ 
wards there follows a moSt delightful field, broad, level and 
gay, with every kind of flower. But the way on the left is, 
in its passage through the wood, flat, dry, broad, well trodden, 
and very pleasant, but it is not longer than the other. To it 
succeeds a field which is long, rocky, muddy and very rough, 
and even horrible to look upon. See, I have told you all; 
choose which you please.” When he finished speaking, the 
novice awoke, not doubting that a vision had been granted 
him, since it exactly answered to his temptation. 

Novice. —I should like to know the interpretation of this 
vision. 

Mon\. —The way on the right signifies the life monastic 
and spiritual, the way on the left the life worldly and carnal. 
The wood is this present life, in which, like trees, men grow 
old and die, Either life is equally short, whether it be mon¬ 
adic or secular. The firSt road is for the present thorny by 
the rigour of the Order, hilly by manifold temptations, miry 
by the humiliation of obedience, narrow by the reStricAions of 
voluntary poverty. Narrow is the way which leadeth unto 
life (Matt. vii. 14), and that is represented by the right hand 
path. Further, the broad and pleasant field is Paradise, which 
it behoves us to enter through much tribulation (A(As xiv. 22). 
On the other hand, the worldly and carnal life, which is repre¬ 
sented by the left hand path, because it leads those who walk 
upon it to judgment with the goats on the left hand side of 
Chrift, is easy for the present owing to the satisfa<Aion of the 
demands of the flesh, level by reason of prosperity, dry because 
of the unrestrained will, broad and well worn because many 
traverse it, delightful in the qualification of the luSt of the 
eyes. In this fashion the novice interpreted the vision, and 


250 



Of Temptation 


was delivered from the temptation of apoftasy owing to pusill¬ 
animity, and from the flormy wind and tempefl (Ps. lv. 8). 

Novice. —It is very marvellous that God should so effeftively 
inffruff the spirit of a sleeping man. 

Mon\. —I remember now another novice, grievously 
tempted in his waking hours, and delivered from that tempta¬ 
tion with no less power by a vision of the night. 


CHAPTER L 1 V. 

Also of Gerard a novice in Aulne, who by an 
Alleluia heard in his sleep was delivered from 
temptation. 

Aulne is a house of our Order in Flanders, which I spoke of 
in the sixth chapter of the firff book. Here not many years 
ago, a certain noble knight, Gerard by name, of the town of 
Thuin, took the vows. When as a novice he used to Stand 
in the novices’ choir, and hear the voices of the monks singing 
in the upper choir over his head, he began to find a great 
temptation in this; and especially was his head troubled when¬ 
ever they sang Alleluia, for then their voices were moff loudly 
raised on a triumphant note. This so unnerved him, that he 
went to the prior and said : “ Lord prior, I have great pains in 
my head, nor can I any longer endure so great a noise juff 
over me.” The prior offered words of consolation, but they 
profited him not at all. 

One night when this temptation was specially troubling him, 
he saw himself in sleep hemmed in on all sides by certain 
knights who had formerly been his enemies, and there was no 
place of refuge left to him. And while he thought that he 
muff: quickly be captured or killed, he cried out to God, say¬ 
ing : “ Lord, deliver me in this hour! And looking round, he 
saw immediately a white-robed army coming from far, and 
haffening to his aid. And the ffandard bearer who went 


251 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


before, instead of sounding the usual military signal, cried over 
and over again with all his might, “ Alleluia!” And at this 
cry the enemy were terrified and betook them hastily to flight, 
leaving the novice by himself alone. 

Then he awoke, and rejoiced that he had been delivered, not 
only from the enemies of his dream, but also from a far worse 
danger, namely, the temptation wc have spoken of. In the 
morning he went to the prior and said to him : “ I beseech you, 
lord prior, that you sing Alleluia over my head more loudly 
and exultantly than ever, for now that cry of Divine praise can 
no longer disturb me,” and he told him the whole vision. This 
was told us by Walter de Birbech, of sacred memory, who had 
both seen and known the said Gerard. 

Novice. —Are not some monks also tempted by apoStasy ? 

Mon\. —Many are tempted, and manfully resist; others are 
tempted, and are altogether overcome both in will and deed; 
others again are tempted and though their will has consented, 
are called back before their adtual fall by Divine revelations 
or by Divine ordering of events; while others again are saved 
by scourgings. 

Novice .—Give me examples of these. 

Mon{. —It is not necessary to give you illustrations of the 
firSt or second, because these temptations are very common, 
but of the laSt two I will tell you what I have heard. 


CHAPTER LV. 

Of a mon\ in Ottenburg, who was delivered from 
the temptation to apoflasy by a text. 

A certan monk of Ottenburg, by the account of Dom Philip, 
his abbot, who told us the Story, underwent such severe tempta¬ 
tions that he made up his mind to return to the world. One 
night he was Standing in the choir and pondering when and 
how he might leave the monastery, for very weariness he 


2 5 * 



Of Temptation 


could not join in the chanting. But at lauds, when they were 
singing the canticle of holy Habakkuk (for it was a Friday) the 
aforesaid abbot went round the brethren to ftir them to further 
devotion. Now when he came to that wavering monk, who 
was not singing, the abbot, thinking him asleep, bent down 
towards him and shouted into his ear, though indeed he was 
wide awake, the verse that was then being sung, crying : The 
devil shall go forth from before his feet (Hab. iii. g, vulg.). 
When he heard this, he was much terrified, thinking that the 
abbot, by some revelation, muff know his perverse thoughts, to 
which the words of the prophet seemed so plainly to respond. 
And understanding the saying of the prophet only as meant 
for himself, he feared his curse, if he should go away and take 
the devil as guide for his journey. And so by the Divine 
power he was saved from his evil intention, and became 
established and settled in his vocation. Much did the abbot 
marvel when he heard the whole Story. 


CHAPTER LVI. 

Of a nun who was delivered from temptation by 
sinking her head againSI the door. 

A certain nun told me herself that at the beginning of her 
conversion she was so sorely tempted, that she grieved that 
she had ever taken the vows. The devil brought back before 
the eyes of her mind the delights of the world which she had 
forsaken, and the poverty of the convent which she had to 
endure; and she began to be tempted by this and grievously 
depressed. Now when she could no longer endure these 
temptations, one night, forgetful of her vow, she rose from her 
bed, and attempted to leave the convent. She came to a 
certain door which led to the cemetery, where she intended to 
climb over the wall and so go back to the world. In God’s 
providence it happened that she {truck her head so violently 

253 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


againft the upper lintel that she fell back with concussion of 
the brain and lay for a long time as one dead. At tail, return¬ 
ing to her senses, she said to herself: “ Whither then doft thou 
desire to go, O unhappy one ? What thou didft owe to the 
devil, this thou haft paid. Go back now to thy cell, for it is 
not the will of God that thou shouldfl ever depart." 

You see how pitifully God protects His own, now by dreams, 
now by prophecy, and now by pain. From all this you may 
gather that novices as well as monks experience temptations 
which arc not to be cured by human words or examples, but 
only by the Divine power. 

Let this be enough of the temptations of accidie or depres¬ 
sion. Would you Eke now to hear examples about avarice ? 

Novice .—1 much desire it; for not only persons in the world, 
but even those in the cloifler are ftrongly tempted by this vice. 
Wherefore 1 beg you to define avarice for me, to enumerate her 
progeny, and then to add examples. 


CHAPTER LV1I. 

0/ avarice and her daughters. 

Mont j.-—Avarice is an insatiable and unworthy desire for 
glory, or for anything else in the world. Love-of-raoney is 
a name also given to this vice, but a diflindhon should be made 
between the two names, because avarice is an immoderate 
craving for the possession of all kinds of things, while love-of- 
money is that which lets loose the particular appetite for amass¬ 
ing wealth. 

Now the daughters of avarice are deceit, fraud, treachery, 
perjury, disquietude, violence, and the hardening of the heart 
againfl compassion. Avarice has two parts, namely, that of 
acquiring and that of keeping. Of its evil influence Solomon 
speaks (Prov. xv. if). The Lord, wishing to show Zechariah 
the origin of the greateft evils of the world, showed him an 

*54 



Of Temptation 


ephah (Zech. v. 6, vulg.), by whose wide mouth he might 
underhand cupidity. This vice by the same prophet is called 
an eye over all the earth. According to the apoftle : the love 
of money is the root of all evil (i Tim. vi. to). Not only 
secular persons are tempted by it, but even spiritual. Laban 
followed after Jacob when returning to his native land, wish¬ 
ing to bring him back. When he could not persuade him, he 
said : Though thou wouldeSl needs be gone, because thou 
longeSl for thy father’s house, yet why haSl thou Stolen my gods 
(Gen. xxxi. 30). Jacob, whose name when interpreted means 
“ Slriver ” or “ supplanter,” signifies a monk, who ought to he 
a supplanter of vices. But Laban, which means “ white," 
signifies the world. 

It often happens that a man leaves the world through con¬ 
version, yet nevertheless, though converted, does not restrain 
his heart from avarice. After such a man the world rightly 
pursues, saying : Thou haSl a longing for thy father's house, 
that is, the heavenly country, why halt thou Stolen my gods ? 
as if it said : why doff thou follow after avarice ? They make 
idols of gold and silver, which even the religious eagerly seek 
after. Not then without cause does the apoftle speak of 
covetousness as idolatry (Col. iii. 5). Rachel, which being 
interpreted is “ one who sees God,” is the soul of a religious 
which covets the riches of this world, and hides them in the 
camel’s furniture (Gen. xxxi. 34), as she hid the idols. For all 
things necessary to the body, which the rule allows to monks, 
as they are common things, so they may be called furniture. 

Novice. —Our own order has often been condemned by the 
world for avarice. 

Mon\. —What they call avarice, we call foresight. For we 
are bound by the injun<ition of our rule to receive all gueSts 
that come to us as though they were the Saviour Himself; and 
if we denied them hospitality, those who now condemn the 
Order for avarice, then would far more severely condemn us 
for hardness and lack of mercy. There is scarcely any house 
of the Order that is not burdened with debts because of gueffs 
and the poor, and also because of those who come daily to us 
for conversion, and cannot be rejefted without scandal. For, 
to excuse our Stewards not for everything, but for this much, 


255 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


they are often compelled by this necessity, whether they will 
or no. With how much pain the vice of avarice is bound up 
both in this life and the next, and with how much glory and 
profit the contempt of riches is rewarded even in this present 
life I will show you by a few examples. 

Great indeed will be its glory in the life to come. 


CHAPTER LVIII. 

Of a \night Ccesarius who refused to pay a debt to 
the canons of Bonn. 

A knight named Cssarius, who came from the neighbouring 
town of Konigswinter, had a brother named Herminold, dean 
of Bonn cathedral, who lent him twenty marks of the money 
of Cologne from the funds of his church. On the death of the 
dean the knight refused to pay back the loan, and moreover 
went so far as to deny the debt altogether ; whereupon the 
provoSt and brethren, finding that he would not acknowledge 
it even in the presence of the original witnesses, summoned 
him to swear to his Statement before the judge. Then the 
knight, overmastered by avarice, took the oath and perjured 
himself, mounted his horse and rode away, but not so could 
he escape the hand of God. When he had completed the half 
of his journey home, having dismounted for some purpose, 
he found that he could not move. For because of his avarice, 
which is the root of all evil, the Lord had rooted faSt his feet 
to the ground, and because he had lied, deprived his tongue of 
its office. He, recognising that it was by the juSt judgment of 
God that he could neither speak nor go forward nor even return 
to Bonn, with much earneStness lifted up his heart to the holy 
patriarch Abraham, who at that moment came into his 
thoughts, saying: “ Holy Abraham, if by thy merits, I may 
recover my speech and power of movement, I will go back at 
once to Bonn, and reStore their money to the brethren.” No 

256 



Of Temptation 


sooner had he made this vow than both tongue and limbs 
resumed their functions; he returned, paid back the money, 
and did penance for his perjury. This Story was told to our 
abbot by Catsarius himself, a man indeed, simple-minded and 
obedient, who died as a novice in our house. 

Novice. —If God so severely punish avarice in worldly 
persons, much more sharply will He, I think, punish it in the 
religious. 

Mon\. —That is very true; especially when the daughters 
of avarice are present, deceit, fraud and violence and the 
hardening of the heart againSt pity. 


CHAPTER LIX. 

Of a monastery which the Lord plagued because of 
the fraud of the cellarer. 

A cellarer of our Order was tempted with avarice, and 
defrauded a certain widow woman. But the Lord, not 
unmindful of his wrongdoing, that same year so blaSted the 
monastery’s wine-crop that the wine had neither flavour nor 
colour. The abbot, sure that so great a plague muff have its 
special cause, humbly besought a virgin of ChriSt named 
Aczelina, who was at that time at Cologne, that she would 
ask the Lord that the cause of that scourge might be revealed. 
When she had done this, the answer came to him that it was 
due to the fraud of his cellarer, which he had pradised againSt 
such and such a widow ; and the Lord added: “ I will yet 
further smite him with a greater plague ” ; and so it fell out, 
for in that year a certain knight burnt nearly all the corn of 
the monastery in the barns ; and then the plague ceased. 

Novice. —Since God is very pitiful, how is it that He 
punishes a whole community for the sin of one man ? 

Mon\. —We read in Joshua (Josh, vii.), that the wrath of 
the Lord was kindled againSl all the people because of the 


257 


17 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


avarice of Achan, who took the accursed thing from Jericho. 
For God is ftern as well as pitiful; if for the sake of one man’s 
merit, He often spares a multitude, why should you wonder, 
if in answer to the dictator of juftice he sometimes punishes 
many for the fault of one ? 

Novice. —If these things be so, it seems to me useful for 
subordinates and necessary for superiors to warn frequently 
their officials that they commit no fraud againft any one, left 
perchance they place a scourge in the hands of the Judge 
againft themselves. 

Mon\. —You say well, because a little leaven leaveneth the 
whole lump (i Cor. v. 6). Not only does God punish, if 
through avarice we bring loss upon others, but also, if by 
greedily withholding our own property we do not share it with 
the poor, or if in hardness of heart we withdraw unnecessarily 
soon kindnesses we have been accuftomed to show. 


CHAPTER LX. 

Of the plague of the monaflery of Villers. 

In Brabant there is a house of our Order called Villers, in 
which great kindnesses have often been shown, and are ftill 
daily shown to guefts and to the poor. This year there was 
some scarcity in that province, and the brethren of this convent 
made an eftimate of their provision of corn; and being afraid 
of a deficit, as is the way of human weakness, they resolved 
(by the temptation of the devil, as afterwards became clear) to 
withhold, until the harveft was gathered, the subsidy that 
they had always been accuftomed to allot to the poor. A 
monk who came from that house told us that on that same 
night, the fishpond, which was beyond the monaftery, burft, 
and pouring itself through the various outbuildings, caused 
them great loss. Moreover, the brethren, as juft and God¬ 
fearing men, putting it down to their sins and especially to the 

258 



Of Temptation 


avarice they had purposed to show to the poor, repealed their 
resolution, and assigned them the usual sums as before. 

Novice .—I should like now to hear some examples of the 
punishment of avarice in the future life. 

Mon \.—This muff be postponed till the twelfth book, in 
which we shall treat of the punishments and rewards of the 
dead. Meanwhile I will give you some examples again 
avarice, that you may know how much good and how much 
glory is theirs, who are tempted by avarice, and not overcome. 


CHAPTER LXI. 

Of an abbot who deposed his cellarer for fraud. 

A certain Benedictine abbot, as was told me by an abbot of 
our Order, came to the abbot of Clairvaux and said: “ Lord 
abbot, give me a sickle, 1 and I will give you in return a curved 
staff.” He, understanding at once what he meant, received 
the man, clothed him in the CiSIercian dress, and because he 
perceived him to be a man of prudence, not long afterwards 
appointed him abbot of a certain house of our Order. 

At this time the brethren of that house were contending 
with some secular persons for certain possessions. The cause 
was brought before the judges, and a decision was given for the 
abbot and brethren. Later the cellarer said privately to the 
abbot: “ My lord, we have done very well to-day, but I wish 
you to know that our cause was not altogether juSt” When 
he heard this the abbot was greatly troubled, but nevertheless 
made no reply. The next day he entered the chapter-house, 
bade the cellarer Stand forth, and deposed him from his office, 
because in his avarice he had suppressed the truth. 

Then he sent a messenger to his opponents and said : “ Good 
sirs, let your property remain your own; from this day I will 

1 A sickle ib used by Caesarius in his Homilies as a symbol of a good and effective 
preacher, who gathers in souls and cuts away their vices.—J. Strange, n. 


259 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


make no demand upon it.” They went away rejoicing, but 
afterwards they were so Struck with the abbot’s singleness of 
mind and justice, that they came back quickly in compundtion 
and in their gratitude freely conferred upon the monastery the 
property for which they had been fighting. The abbot at firSt 
refused to accept it, but they said: “ Sir, whatever right in 
this property may be ours, we freely resign; and as far as it 
belongs to us, we offer it in alms to God.” Then only did the 
abbot consent to take back his possessions, edifying his mona¬ 
stery far more by his simple justice than the cellarer had done 
by his aStute avarice. You will hear an almoSt similar Story 
about Dom Peter, the abbot of Clairvaux in the eleventh 
chapter of the sixth book. 

Avarice is deeply abhorred by upright men, as you will hear 
in the following chapter. 


CHAPTER LXII. 

Of Ulrich, the provofi of Steinveldt, and of an 
avaricious lay-brother whom he deposed. 

A certain scholaSticus lived at the monastery of S. Chry- 
santhus, a man of prudence and learning, a Frenchman named 
Ulrich. Since the income of his office was an insufficient one, 
he was unavoidably weighed down with debt. One of the 
brethren of the monastery of Steinveldt of the PremonStra- 
tensian Order, knowing him to be a man of great learning, 
frequently urged him to come to their convent and take the 
vows; and at length by divine inspiration he answered as 
follows : “ I owe a little money; pay it for me, and I will come 
to you.” When the provoSt of the said monastery heard this, 
he gladly paid the money, and the scholaSticus forthwith 
assumed the monk’s dress and soon afterwards was made the 
provoSt of that monastery, for at that time there were no abbots 
in the PremonStratensian Order. 


260 



Of Temptation 


He, realising chat with this office he had undertaken to 
govern souls, not cattle or property, gave all his attendon to 
rooung out vices, not to amassing money, well knowing that 
avarice is the root of all evils. Now he had a lay-brother so 
skilful and circumspect in the administration of their property, 
so energetic and accomplished as an organiser that everything 
passed through his hands, and he alone made every necessary 
provision for the monastery farms, whether in implements or 
Stock or any other expenditure. It was he who managed 
everything, and neglected nothing, but added field to field and 
vineyard to vineyard. The provoSt considered all this, and 
reading in the scriptures that nothing was more criminal than 
avarice, sent one day for the lay-brother and said: “ Do you 
know, my good fellow with a beard, 1 why I joined the Order ?” 
He could not speak German well, and had no elegant phrases 
in that language, and so it was the habit of the lay-brothers to 
look upon all nis speech as clumsy and awkward. The lay- 
brother replied : “ No, sir, I do not know.” Then he : “ Well, 
1 will tell you. 1 came here to bewail my sins in this place. 
Now, why did you come?” When the other replied : “ Sir, 
for the same purpose the provoSf said : “ If you came here 
to bewail your sins, you ought to behave like a penitent, that 
is, you ought to be continually in church, to watch, to fail, and 
to pray God unceasingly for your sins. For it is not the part 
of a penitent to do as you are doing, to despoil your neighbours, 
to lade yourself with thicl j clay (Hab. ii. 6). 

To this the lay-brother replied : “ Sir, these properties that 
I am buying are contiguous to the fields or vineyards of our 
church and the provoft: “ Very good. Since these have 
been bought, you muff needs also buy those which lie next 
to them. You indeed put no bounds to your avarice. When 
all this province has been bought up by you, you will cross the 
Rhine at a ftride, then you will go to the mountains, nor will 
you reft till you come to the sea. I think perhaps that you 
will flop there, because the sea is broad and great, and your 
ftride is limited. Stay now in your monaflery and frequent 
your church, that you may bemoan your sins by day and by 
night. Wait a little, and you will have enough earth beneath 

1 Lay-brothers wore beards, while monb were clean shared. J. Strange. 

26l 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


you, above you and within you, for dull thou art, and unto 
dull thou shall return " (Gen. iii. 19). Some of the elder 
brethren, when they heard of this, said: “ Sir, sir, if this lay- 
brother be deposed, our house will come to ruin.” To which 
he replied: “ It is better for this house to perish than for an 
immortal soul,” and would not listen to their petition. 

Novice.- —That was a true pallor who knew that the sheep 
committed to him had not been redeemed with the corruptible 
things of silver and gold, but with the precious blood of a 
lamb without blemish and without spot (1 Pet. i. 18, 19). 

Mon!{. —This was made clear both in his words and afts. 
It was at that time that Rheinhold became bishop of Cologne, 
and found that the revenues of the episcopate were much 
mortgaged, and its farms untenanted. Wherefore he was 
advised to seek out from the various houses of the Cistercian 
Order, in his diocese, faithful and far-sighted lay-brothers to 
look after the farms and restore the annual incomes by their 
industry. And when he agreed with this advice, and had 
collected several lay-brothers from the religious houses both of 
Kamper KloSt and Berg, he was also advised to get the before 
mentioned lay-brother. 

He sent therefore an honourable messenger for him, who 
when he had saluted the provoSt on behalf of the bishop, said: 
“ My lord makes a small request to you, which I hope you will 
not refuse him.” The provoSt answered : “ It is not for my 
lord to make requests to me, but to give his commands and 
the other went on: “ He begs moSt earnestly that you will 
send him such and such a lay-brother for such and such pur¬ 
poses." To this the provoSt replied humbly, firmly and 
courteously: “ I have two hundred sheep in such a grange, 
and so many moreover in others, and likewise oxen and horses; 
let my lord take from them as many as he wishes; but I cannot 
for the purpose you speak of give him the lay-brother who has 
been committed to my conscience. I shall have to give an 
account to the chief Shepherd on the Day of Judgment not for 
sheep and oxen, but for the souls entrusted to me ”; and he 
did not yield to him. 

Further, he left another proof of his largeheartedness, a 
very useful example againSt the avarice of the religious. One 

262 



Of Temptation 


day before the aforesaid lay-brother had been removed from 
his office in the way we have described, the provoSt came to 
one of his granges and saw there a very beautiful young foal. 
He questioned the lay-brother about this animal, whose it was, 
and where it came from; and when the lay-brother replied: 
“ A good and faithful friend of ours left him to us at his 
death said the provost: “ Was it in devotion, or did the 
legacy come from some privilege?” The lay-brother 
answered: “ It fell to us by his death; for the widow, because 
she is one of our tenants, offered him to us as a death duty.” 
Then the provost:, shaking his head, made this good answer: 
“ Because the man was our good and faithful friend, is that 
the reason that you have robbed his widow? Give back her 
horse at once to the poor woman, for it is robbery either to 
take or to keep the property of another; it was not yours before 
the man's death.” 

Because this provost was a man of prudence, he was unwill¬ 
ing to take the younger men with him when he went abroad 
on the business of the monastery; for he realised that it was 
not right to expose them to the temptations of the devil. One 
day he did take with him one of the juniors, and as they rode 
along, talking of one thing and another, they met a comely 
girl. The provoSt, of set purpose, drew in his horse and 
saluted her kindly; and she Slopped and returned his salute 
with a curtsey. When they have gone a little further the 
provoSf, wishing to make trial of the youth, said to him: 
“ That seemed to me a very comely maiden ”; and the other 
replied: “ Indeed by lord, I thought so too.” The provoSt 
went on : “ 'Tis pity she hath the defedt of having only one 
eye.” The youth answered : “ Indeed, my lord, she hath two 
eyes, for I particularly noticed them.” Very angry, the provoSt 
said : “ And I will particularly notice your back! You ought 
to have been of such simplicity that you could not have told 
whether she was male or female.” When he got back to the 
monastery, he said to the elder monks : “ You, sirs, sometimes 
blame me because I do not take the juniors out with me,” and 
he laid the whole case before them, and then severely 
upbraided and chaStised the youth. 

Also he was a man of such great learning, that once, when 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


he went to Citeaux on the business of his Order, he preached 
a sermon before the General Chapter, as I was told by one 
of the seniors of that house. 

Novice. —It frequently happens that powerful men obtain 
from their subjedfs money or goods unjustly, and use this to 
build religious houses. Ought the religious wittingly to 
accept offerings of this kind? 

Mon\. —Whatever injures the conscience pollutes it; but 
nevertheless you shall learn by the following example that 
sometimes this is done by the juSt decree of God. 


CHAPTER LXIII. 

Of the abbot to whom a voice came during prayer, 
while he was hesitating to accept a house built by a 
powerful noble. 

A certain powerful noble determined to build a house for 
our Order upon his estates, and when he had found a suitable 
site, he ejedted the inhabitants, partly indeed by giving them 
compensation, but partly also by threats. Now the abbot, 
who was to send a convent to this place, was afraid that it 
might be displeasing to God that the poor should be driven 
out from their homes in such a way; wherefore he prayed 
earnestly that God would deign to show him His will about 
this. Nor was that juSt man allowed to distress himself for 
long in this matter; for one day when he was engaged in 
prayer he heard a voice saying: Thou hail given an heritage 
to those that fear Thy name (Ps. lxi. 5). Rising from his 
knees, he at once understood by the prophet’s words thus sent 
from heaven, that it was the Divine will that worldly-minded 
men should be ejedfed from their houses, and that the God¬ 
fearing should be settled there to praise His name in that place. 
Even so we read that the Lord gave to the children of Israel 
the lands of the Canaanites and of the other unclean races. 

264 



PLATE IV 



A TYPICAL CISTERCIAN MONASTERY 


Vol. I) 


[ face p. 264 





Of Temptation 


Yet such things are not to be held up for a precedent, because 
every kind of avarice and injustice ought to be abhorrent to the 
religious. 

Novice .—All the more is scandal to be avoided in such 
cases, because worldly folk do not like to have the cloistered 
in their midft. 


CHAPTER LXIV. 

What bishop Philip said when he was building our 
house. 

Mon\.— When our convent was invited to the mountain 
of Stromberg by archbishop Philip, some of the provincials 
remonstrated with him because they were alarmed for their 
heirs. To these he made a good and worthy reply: 
“ Would,” he said, “ that there were in every township of my 
diocese a convent of the juSt, who might praise God contin¬ 
ually, and pray for me and for those committed to my charge 1 
So, 1 think, the condition of my province would be much 
better than it now is, for they would harm none, and would 
profit many. Never do they lay hands upon the goods of 
others, while they share their own with all. 


CHAPTER LXV. 

Of the generosity shown to the poor in the great 
famine by the house of PeterHhal. 

At the time when the great famine, which took place in 
the year of our Lord’s Incarnation eleven hundred ana ninety 

2fi 5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

seven, was brooding over the land and destroying great multi¬ 
tudes, our house came to the help of many, although at that 
time it was both poor and newly founded. Those, who had 
the opportunity of estimating the number of the poor who 
beset the gate, said that sometimes relief was given to fifteen 
hundred in one day. Dom Gevard, who was then abbot, 
gave orders that daily, until harveSt a whole ox should be 
cooked in three great cauldrons with vegetables collected 
from all sides, and he himself distributed it, with a portion 
of bread, to the poor one by one ; and the same thing was 
done with sheep and other foodstuffs. 

And so by the grace of God, all the poor survived and were 
supported until the harveSt. And as I heard from the lips 
of abbot Gevard himself, when he feared that perchance the 
supply of grain might give out before the time, and upbraided 
the baker for making the loaves too large, the latter replied: 
“ Believe me, my lord, they are very small in the dough, but 
they grow in the oven ; we put them in small, but they 
came out large.” The same baker, to wit, the brother 
Red Conrad, who is Still living, told me that not only did the 
loaves grow in the oven, but also the flour increased in the 
sacks and vessels, so that all the bakers marvelled as well as 
the poor who came for their food. For they said: “ Lord 
God, whence comes all this grain? ” That year the Lord 
of all wealth rewarded the charity of His servants a hundred¬ 
fold even in this life. For MaSter Andrew of Speyer, with 
the money he had collected at the court of the Emperor 
Frederick and also in Greece, bought a great farm in Plitters- 
dorf, and gave it to us. From whence could come such a 
will, except from God? 


266 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER LXVI. 

Also of the humanity which the house of Hemmen- 
rode showed at the same time to the poor, and how 
it received much more bac\ from God. 

At the same time our mother-house in Hemmenrode showed 
no less charity to the poor ; indeed it was greater, as the 
house is richer. So grievous was the famine that oppressed 
the poor, that pregnant women fulfilled their time for giving 
birth in the wood before the gate, while they waited for relief. 
But the Lord is not unmindful of His promise : Give, and it 
shall be given unto you (Luke vi. 38), and because they were 
generous in giving, He sent them generous rewards. For 
Gerard, the provoft of S. Simeon in Treves, left them at his 
death about six hundred pounds of silver, out of which he 
earmarked one hundred for the use of the poor at the gate. 
When the porter received his hundred pounds, he bought 
with it no vineyards or fields, but many bushels of fine wheat- 
flour from Coblentz, which enabled him to support the poor 
adequately until the harvest. 


CHAPTER LXVII. 

Also of a monailery in Weftphaha, to whom God 
restored two fold the money given to the poor. 

Brother Gotteschalk of Volmunftein, our fellow monk, 
told me that after those times of scarcity, a certain cellarer of 
our Order from Weftphaha met him. And when he asked 
him whither he was hurrying, he replied: “ To the 
Exchange. Before the harvest, owing to the necessities of 
the poor, we killed our cattle and pledged our chalices and 
books. But God sent us a friend, who gave us so much gold, 
that the quantity was double all that we had given away. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Wherefore I am going to change this into silver that with it 
I may redeem our pledges and buy back our flocks.” Let 
these three examples be our answer to those who accuse the 
monasteries of avarice. 

Novice. —Never before did I understand so well what that 
meant: Give, and it shall be given unto you. 

Mon\. —Nor will you understand perfectly until the future 
life, when in return for any earthly goods you have renounced 
for Christ’s sake, or have given to the poor in His Name, 
you will receive the kingdom which has been prepared for the 
ele< 5 t from the foundation of the world (Matt. xxv. 34). In 
that day the Son of man will recount your gift to you with the 
reSt of the eledt, and you will receive His promise (Matt, 
xxv. 35). Nevertheless, juSt men, made perfect, will sit with 
the Lord in judgment. 

Novice. —If such mighty benefits wait upon alms-giving, 
woe unto them who in this short life follow after avarice ! 

Mon\. —Those words of the Lord, Give, and it shall be 
given unto you, recall to my memory a Story very necessary 
as an example for those who exercise hospitality. 


CHAPTER LXVIII. 

Of a monastery which came to poverty through the 
avarice of an abbot, and was rettored by the recep¬ 
tion of the brethren Date and Dabitur. 

A certain abbot, a Benedkfiine I think, as I understood 
from the account given by an abbot of our Order, was very 
hospitable and exceedingly pitiful towards the poor. And 
because he was eager in works of mercy, he desired to appoint 
such Stewards of his house as would not hinder his zeal, but 
rather inflame it. The more gueSts he received, the more 
charity he showed to the poor, the more did the Lord bless 
him and his house. 


268 



Of Temptation 


After his death, his successor, urged by avarice, removed 
from office those who had distributed mercy, and appointed 
others whom he knew to be more grasping, and said: “ My 
predecessor was too lavish and indiscreet, and his Stewards too 
wasteful. We ought so to order and reStriil the expenses of 
our convent, that if perchance our crops should be ruined 
with hail, and bad times should come, we shall Still have 
enough to help the poor. Screening his avarice with words 
like these, he altogether put an end to hospitality, and with¬ 
drew the accuStomed benefits from the poor. With .the 
departure of charity, the resources of the convent could no 
longer prosper, and indeed quickly came to such a degree of 
poverty that the Brethren had scarce enough to eat. 

One day there came to the gate a venerable white-haired 
man, who asked for admission. The porter took him in 
secretly and fearfully and showed him the kindness due to a 
gueSl so far as he could, and added: “ You muSt not be 
offended, good sir, that I provide for you so ill, because neces¬ 
sity is the cause of it. In former days I have seen this monas¬ 
tery in such prosperity that if a bishop should have come at 
any time, he would have received a hearty and lavish wel¬ 
come.” The other replied : “ Two brethren have been driven 
out from this convent ; and never can it flourish again, unless 
these brethren return. Their names are brothers Date and 
Dabitur ” ; and then he vanished. I think that he muff have 
been some angelic personage, by whose agency the Lord 
desired to recall the Brethren to their former charity. The 
porter who was a lay-brother, remembered the names without 
understanding them, and repeated to the abbot and brethren 
all that he had heard. Hospitality was renewed, and at once 
the Lord began to bless them as before. 

Novice .—What are we to think of those who give alms 
and receive gueffs only for the sake of vainglory ? 

Mon \.—Such men give in a hopelessly wrong way, and 
receive no reward except human praise which is indeed the 
reward they seek. Some give their subffance to Chriff only 
for the sake of eternal life, and these the Lord does not leave 
unrewarded even here and now. Some indeed do it for both 
motives, namely that they may grow rich in this present life, 

269 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

and in the future have life eternal ; and these the Lord often 
rewards with the double gift, in this world temporal riches, 
and in the world to come life everlasting. Some however in 
their poverty, beStow all they have upon ChriSt, and when 
they find themselves enriched by Him, then are they the more 
tempted by the devil, and close their hands through fear of 
returning to poverty. 

Novice. —Give me an example of this. 


CHAPTER LXIX. 

Of a woman who became rich after showing hospi¬ 
tality to the abbots of the Ciflercian Order, and poor 
again when she withdrew this. 

Not long ago a woman, Still perhaps alive, who lived in a 
certain city, where our abbots were wont to lodge on their 
way to the General Chapter, received several of them for the 
sake of gain. When she perceived that their coming brought 
a blessing to her, she gave them firSt their lodging and then 
their food, for nothing. The more she gave, the more she 
found she had ; and when she had now become rich by the 
merits and prayers of her gueSts and abounded in all her 
possessions, she began to fear poverty again, and said to her¬ 
self: “ You cannot any longer sustain such heavy expenses ; 
be more careful now, left you come to poverty.” Wonderful 
result ! As soon as she refused to give the accustomed hospi¬ 
tality to her guefts, the Lord also withdrew His bounty from 
her. For in that house Brother Dabitur could not dwell when 
his Brother Date was driven out of it. At length coming 
back to herself and seeing that she was coming to want, she 
did penance for her fault, and resuming her former good 
works, began once more to grow rich. 


270 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER LXX. 

How that saying ought to he under flood, To him 
that hath shall he given ; and from him that hath 
not shall be taken away even that he hath. 

Novice. —I should like to know how we ought to under¬ 
hand those words of Chrift (Matt. xiii. 12) : Whosoever hath, 
to him shall be given and he shall have more abundance ; 
but whosover hath not, from him shall be taken away even 
that he hath. 

Mon\ ■—To him that has the grace of hospitality, and 
receives his guests with kindness, goodwill and a cheerful coun¬ 
tenance, and who freely welcomes God’s poor ; to him it is 
the Lord’s will that there shall be given as much, and some¬ 
times as is shown above, a hundredfold in this present life, 
and he shall have abundance, and in the world to come life 
everlafting. But he who has not the grace of almsgiving 
and hospitality, he who has no true welcome for his gueSts, 
and is reludtant to look upon the faces of the poor ; he who 
gives them grudgingly juft as much as he cannot refuse, from 
this man, by God’s juSt decree, that which he possesses in 
temporal wealth, either fails of itself, or is taken away and 
carried off by others, nor is it increased by the offerings of the 
faithful. 

Novice. —This explanation pleases me much, especially in 
the light of the preceding examples. 

Monk- —Though it is a common occurrence that generous 
monasteries are enriched by Chrift, and on the other hand 
those that are grasping, contrary to His will, are impoverished, 
nevertheless I will add an example of each. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER LXXI. 

Of the hospitality of the mon\s of Laach. 

In Mayenfeld, in the province of the diocese of Treves, is 
situated a Benedidine abbey called Laach, taking its name from 
its position, remarkable for its notable men and great posses¬ 
sions. Thither one day came a certain Saxon to ask hospi¬ 
tality, and was received very charitably and went away much 
edified. Not long afterwards, a rich friend of this man in 
Saxony was at the point of death, and, while making his will 
in the other’s presence, said : “I should like to leave some¬ 
thing for the benefit of my soul, if I knew where it could 
bed be placed.” His friend replied: “ Near Cologne there 
is a very holy monastery, wherein dwell real men of God, who 
are remarkable for their hospitality, as I myself can tedify. 
Nowhere could you place your alms better nor more profitably 
to your soul than there.” According to his advice, the Saxon 
bequeathed, I think, forty marks of silver to this convent, and 
died. The money was sent by a servant to Cologne, and 
because that diocese was much didurbed owing to the war 
then raging between the kings Otto and Philip, he left the 
money there, and going to Laach on foot, told the whole 
matter to the abbot, who sent his cellarer and received the 
money. This was told me by a certain lay-brother of our 
Order. 


CHAPTER LXXII. 

Of an inhospitable Provott of the Benedidines. 

There is a cell of the same Order situated in the Bishopric 
of Cologne, but I do not wish to name it at present, and this 
cell the provod ruled so grudgingly that, in spite of the Rule, 
he would not willingly receive any gueds to hospitality, 
although he had abundance of wealth. But the bishop, who 

2 7 2 



Of Temptation 


was also the patron o£ that cell, knowing both the inhospi¬ 
tality and the wealth of this man, came to visit him once or 
twice a year with a large number of mounted attendants and 
a great body of soldiers, so that the provoSt spent as much in 
their entertainment as would have sufficed for the ordinary 
hospitality of a whole year. For though the bishop spared 
other much richer houses, yet he spent lavishly the goods of 
this provoSt, that the before-quoted saying of the Saviour 
might be fulfilled. 

Novice .—I admit that enough has been said both in teach¬ 
ing and illustrations againSt avarice ; and I pray you now 
that you will not find it irksome to do the same againSt glut¬ 
tony. 

Monk ..—-FirSt I muSt explain to you about gluttony. What 
it is, and who are its daughters, and how dangerous is the 
temptation of it both to the body and soul of any who con¬ 
sent to it ; and then I will try and make these things plain 
to you by examples. 


CHAPTER LXXII 1 . 

Of gluttony and her daughters. 

Gluttony is the immoderate and enticing appetite of eating 
and drinking for bodily pleasure alone. Its daughters are 
uncleanness, scurrility, foolish jeSting, excessive talking, dull¬ 
ness of intelligence. In gluttony there are five Stages of sin. 
The firSt is to demand rare and delicate food ; the second to 
prepare food in a fanciful way ; the third to eat before the 
time ; the fourth to eat greedily ; and the fifth in too great 
quantity. The firSt man fell a vicffim to gluttony in Paradise ; 
it was this that deprived Esau of his birthright; gluttony 
incited the men of Sodom to the worSl kind of sin ; it laid 
low the children of Israel in the desert (Ps. lxxviii. 31). The 
sin of Sodom was satiety and fulness of bread (Ez. xvi. 49). 

u 


273 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Abdo, the man of God, when sent to Bethel, was slain by a 
lion, owing to gluttony (i Kings xiii.) ; the rich man, who 
fared sumptuously every day found burial in hell (Luke xvi. 
22) Nebuzar-adan (2 Kings xxv. 8), the chief cook, that is, 
gluttony, destroyed Jerusalem. You see how great dangers 
lie in this vice. (Also, Eccles x. 16, vi. 7, Lk. xi. 34, Rom. 
xiii. 13). The firSt temptation of ChriSt (Matt, iv.) by the 
devil was through gluttony ; wherefore Jerome says: “ in the 
fight Chrifl: firSt Strove by faSting againSt gluttony, by which 
the firSt man had been conquered.” How Strong and impor¬ 
tunate againSt us this vice can be, I will explain by some recent 
examples ; and I will try to keep the order, as far as I can, 
and also the manner of these temptations of Adam, Esau 
and the reSt, which have been enumerated above. 


CHAPTER LXXIV. 

Of the scholar Conrad, who, for the eating of one 
apple, loft his uncle’s favour. 

The dean of the Cathedral of Cologne was a Swabian by 
birth, a rich, honourable and prudent man, and acceptable as 
a counsellor to the Emperor Frederick. This man had 
planted in his orchard a young apple tree of a new kind, and 
already its bloom was developing into fruit ; he was very 
anxious to teSf its firSt produce, and so had given orders to all 
his household, that no one should touch any of the few apples 
on the young tree before maturity, under penalty of his dis¬ 
pleasure and of punishment. Every one else obeyed this 
order, but a certain scholar named Conrad, his nephew, who 
by his influence had been promoted to be a canon in the church 
of S. Andrew saw this fruit and luffed after it; and disre¬ 
garding his uncle’s order, plucked—one only I think—of the 
apples and ate it. Now when the dean heard of this, he was 
inflamed againSt him with so much anger and resentment, 


m 



Of Temptation 


that he caSt out this once beloved nephew, and could not be 
induced by any entreaties to pardon his fault ; further, from 
that day he used all his influence againSt him, though formerly 
he had been moil eager for his advancement. I knew that 
Conrad well, and he reached no higher dignity than the office 
of precentor of the church of S. Andrew. You see how 
closely the punishment of this lad corresponded with that of 
Adam. The one was caSt out of the delights of paradise, and 
the other from his uncle’s house and wealth, and both for the 
sake of an apple. 

Novice .—Seeing that Adam had under his hand all the 
fruits of Paradise, it seems wonderful to me that he could not 
leave one tree alone. 

Mon \.—There are many who rashly condemn Adam for 
his disobedience, because they look only upon the worthless¬ 
ness of the apple, and forget the violence of the temptation, 
as will be shown in the next example. 


CHAPTER LXXV. 

Of a servant who opened a box againft his lord’s 
command. 

A certain householder had a servant, who was a faithful 
and wise Steward of all his property. It happened that one 
day a discussion arose between them upon the disobedience 
of Adam, in eating the apple againSf the Lord’s command ; 
and the servant cried out upon his inconstancy, saying : “ To 
say nothing of God, I am sure that if you had laid upon me as 
Strict an injunction, I could not have disobeyed it.” His 
maSler said nothing at the time, but later, when the than was 
less upon his guard, and had forgotten his diatribe against. 
Adam, he handed to him a box, closed yet not fastened, and 
said : “I entruSt this box to your keeping ; if you should open 
it, you will lose the reward of all your labour, and forfeit my 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


favour for ever.” He impressed this upon him several times, 
and the man withdrew into his private room, taking the box 
with him. 

Here a Strange tide of contradictory thoughts began at once 
to come over him, and he was beset with a longing to know 
what the box contained. Often he turned the box this way 
and that, and looked at it from every side ; then he said to 
himself: “ Supposing I open it. I am alone ; there is no 
one to see. If I am asked, I will deny it ; there is no witness 
to conviCt me.” Overcome at lad by temptation, he opened 
the box ; whereupon a little bird, that had been shut up in 
it, flew away. Then indeed, overwhelmed with remorse, he 
knew the mySlery, and knew too the trap into which he had 
fallen ; and when his lord asked for the box, he threw him¬ 
self at his feet and sought pardon, but found it not. And 
his mader said: “ Thou wicked and perverse servant, in 
blaming our firSt parent for disobedience, and in commend¬ 
ing to me thine own Steadfastness, thou haSt condemned thy¬ 
self out of thine own mouth. Depart from me ; thou shalt 
see my face no more.” This Story was told me by a canon 
of S. Severin in Cologne, a man of advanced years, of Strict 
veracity and of religious life. A somewhat similar occur¬ 
rence took place in Saxony. 


CHAPTER LXXVI. 

Of a ^night’s lady, who, overcome by temptation, 
entered a slough which her husband had forbidden. 

Henry of Wied was a rich powerful and well-known 
knight, attendant on Henry, duke of Saxony. There are 
many Still living who know him who perchance remember 
the Story I am about to tell. His wife was a lady of noble 
birth and very dear to him ; one day when they were talking 
together about the sin of Eve, she began, as is the way with 

276 



Of Temptation 


women, to speak harshly of her, and to condemn her for her 
inconstancy, because for the sake of an insignificant apple, 
merely to satisfy her gluttony, she had subjected the whole 
human race to so great penalties and miseries. But her hus¬ 
band said : “ Do not condemn her ; possibly under a similar 
temptation you might have done the same. See now, I will 
lay upon you a command Slill easier than hers, and for all 
your love for me you will not be able to keep it.” When 
she asked what this command might be, the knight went on : 
“ It is this, that on the days that you go to your bath, you will 
not go with bare feet into the slough in our courtyard ; on the 
other days you may go in if you like.” She laughed and 
shuddered at the thought of transgressing such a command, 
for that pond was foul and evil-smelling, and collected the 
filth of the whole yard ; and Henry went on : “1 am going 
to add a penalty ; if you shall obey me, you shall have from 
me forty marks of silver, but if not, you shall pay me the 
same sum ” ; and she was well pleased with the bargain. 
Then without her knowledge, he told some of his servants to 
keep a watch upon the pond. 

Strange to say, from that hour this honourable and modes’ 
matron could never cross the court without a furtive glance 
at the pond ; and whenever she went to her bath, she was 
always grievously tempted by the sight of this water. One 
day, when she came out of the bath, she said to her maid : 


“ Unless I go into that pond, I shall simply die.” Presently, 
after the attendant had gone, she looked carefully round, and 
seeing no one, girt up her robe, and went forthwith into that 
filthy water up to her knees, walking to and fro in it, this 
way and that, until she had satisfied her longing. This was 
immediately reported to her husband, and he, much pleased, 
said, as soon as he saw her : “ How now, lady ? have you had 
a good bath to-day? ” and when she replied: “Yes, thank 
you,” he added: “ Did you take it in the bath, or in the 
pond? ” 

At this she was filled with confusion and remained silent, 


perceiving clearly that he was not ignorant of her folly. And 
he: “ What, my lady, has become of your constancy, your 
obedience, your boafting? You were tempted much less 


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urgently than Eve, you have resifted less bravely, you have 
fallen more disgracefully ; pay therefore what you owe.” 
And since she had no money with which to pay, he took all 
her coStly clothes and gave them to different people, per¬ 
mitting her to be thoroughly miserable for some time. 

Not/ice. —It is a very deplorable thing that human nature 
should thus always Strive after what is forbidden. 

Mon\. —How violent sometimes may be conflict with 
temptation after a command I will show you by the example 
of a certain knight, who chose rather to die than be conquered 
by his temptation. 


CHAPTER LXXVII. 

Of a penitent \night who was slain but not over¬ 
come by the temptation of a forbidden tree. 

I have been told by a certain monk of a knight who had 
committed many crimes, how his heart was at laSt turned to 
penitence. He went to the prieSf, made confession of his 
sins, and promised satisfaction, but was unable to keep his 
promise. Now when he had aCted thus several times, one day 
the prieSt said to him : “ We are making no progress. Tell 
me now, is there any promise that you really can keep in 
satisfaction for your sins ? ” The knight replied : “ There is 
an apple tree on my property, whose fruit is so evil and bitter, 
that I can never eat of it. If you think well, let it be my 
penance never to taSte of those apples so long as I live.” The 
priest, knowing how temptation arises from the incitements 
of the flesh and the devil or both, especially after a prohibition, 
replied: “ For all your sins, I lay this command upon you, 
that you shall never willingly eat of the fruit of that tree.” 

The knight went away, looking upon the penance enjoined 
as a mere nothing. This tree grew in such a place, that as 



Of Temptation 


and whenever he saw it, he remembered the prohibition, and 
in the remembrance was soon grievously tempted. One day 
when he was passing before it, he looked upon its apples, and 
he who tempted and laid low the firSt man through the lure 
of forbidden fruit, tempted him with such insistence, that he 
went up to the tree, and now Stretching out his hand to the 
apples, and now drawing it back again, he passed nearly the 
whole day in these contending Struggles. At laSt by the help 
of grace, he triumphed and resisted the desire, but with so 
great effort that his heart was broken, and he lay down be¬ 
neath the tree and gave up the ghoSt. 

Novice .—No wonder that Adam fell if his temptation were 
as great as that. 

Mon\. —Adam’s fall in yielding to temptation was grievous 
because, although he had an outside cause to drive him on, 
yet he also had an inward grace to help him. But let this 
be enough in the matter of the apple through which our firSl 
parents were driven out of Paradise. 

Novice .-—No less do I wonder that Esau in his hunger 
threw away his birthright before God, for the sake of a mess 
of pottage, than that those, who were disobedient concerning 
the apple, were driven out of Paradise. 

Mon \.—Not through hunger, not through luff of the 
pottage, did he lose his birthright, but for the contempt with 
which, at the call of gluttony, he sold so precious a possession 
for so unworthy a price. Yet we, who frequently feed upon 
such food and heartily enjoy it, need not find any cause of 
alarm in this pleasure, for it is a great gift of God, when those 
who before their conversion were fastidious in their food, 
find that simple vegetables bring them as good an appetite 
as a costly banquet. 


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CHAPTER LXXVIII. 

Of the three grains with which abbot Gisilbert said 
that he spiced the pottage of the months. 

At the time when those honourable knights of so much 
renown in the world, to wit, Ulrich, surnamed Flasse, Gerard 
called Wascart, and Charles Markman of Cologne with 
other rich men both clergy and laity had been converted in 
Hemmenrode, and had grown Strong in the Order, a man 
Still in the world, a friend and acquaintance of these knights, 
said to their abbot Gisilbert of blessed memory: “ It is a 
source of continual wonder to me that men, so delicately 
brought up in the world, can live upon simple vegetables, 
pease and lentils.” 

The abbot replied : “I give them three grains of spice, 
with which they flavour their rough messes so effectively 
that they scarce leave anything on their plates at meals.” 
While the other was wondering what he meant, the abbot 
continued : “ I will explain. The firSt grain of spice signifies 
the long night watches, the second manual labour, and the 
third the impossibility of getting any better food. Here you 
have the three spices which, when applied to our pottage, 
give it the fineSt flavour in the world and I firmly believe 
that when a monk avoids his pease or lentils from melancholy 
fancies or humours, he commits a greater sin than when he 
eats too much. If he is not willing to take what is set before 
him, obviously he needs or desires richer food ; and if such 
were given him habitually, we should scandalise the weak, 
while if it were withheld, he would grow old and feeble 
before his time. A monk cannot faSt well, watch well or 
pray well on an empty stomach. This is why S. Bernard ‘.n 
one of his sermons reproves so sharply monks who are dainty. 
Our food is not very Strengthening, and therefore we muSt 
eat plenty of it.” 

Novice. —What are we to think of those who have to go 
frequently into the world on business and fare delicately 
nearly every day ? Are they equal in merit to their brethren, 
who have to be content with the regular food ? 

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Of Temptation 


Mon \.—It is not for me to judge them. Each one will 
receive according to his work ; but I will tell you a very 
pleasant discourse about this, spoken by a lay-brother in jefl 
againfl a certain Cardinal. 


CHAPTER LXXIX. 

Of the discourse of an illiterate mon\ to Henry, 
Cardinal of Alba. 

The Cardinal bishop of Alba, Henry of sacred memory, 
in the year of our Lord 1188, in the time of the Emperor 
Frederick, was sent to Germany by Pope Clement, to preach 
the cross againfl the Saracens, and took with him as com¬ 
panions of his journey some monks of the CiStercian Order 
from our part of the country. 

One day as they rode together, he said to them : “ Which 
of you will tell us something that may profit us ? ” And one 
of them answered: “ That one,” pointing to a certain lay- 
brother whose name I have forgotten. Whereupon the 
Cardinal ordered him at once to preach them a word of exhor¬ 
tation. At firft he excused himself, saying that a lay-brother 
ought to hold his peace in the presence of learned men ; but 
at length he began as follows : “ When we shall be dead and 
carried to paradise, our holy father Benedift will come to meet 
us. When he sees that we are all monks wearing the cowl, 
he will bring us in joyfully ; but when he sees Henry the 
Cardinal bishop he will be astonished at his mitre, and will 
say, “ But who are you ? ” and he will reply: “ Father, I 
am a CiSlercian monk. ” The saint will answer: “ Certainly 
not; no monk ever wore a mitre.” And when Henry shall 
proteft loudly on his own behalf, the holy Benedift, having 
at length passed his decision, will say to the doorkeepers: 
“ Put him on his back and cut open his stomach. If you find 
in it simply vegetables, beans, pease, lentils, pulse and the 

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regular food of monks, let him come in with the others ; but 
if not, if you find great fish, and worldly and delicate dainties, 
why, then, let him Stop outside.” Then he turned to the 
Cardinal and added : “ And what will you say then, my poor 
Henry? ” The Cardinal smiled at this question, and com¬ 
mended his discourse. 

When I was Still a boy, I heard this venerable bishop and 
monk preaching the cross in the church of S. Peter at Cologne, 
and I saw him there giving the cross to many ; he was a juSt 
and holy man, one who shoo\ his hand from the holding of 
bribes (Isa. xxxiii. 15), and who edified many both in word 
and example. 

Novice. —I remember that you told us above that the 
iniquity of Sodom sprang from fulness of bread and 
abundance. 

Mon\. —They are the words of the prophet Ezekiel (Ez. 
xvi. 49). Moses says: Before the Lord dekroyed Sodom, all 
that region was well watered everywhere, even as the garden 
of the Lord, and li/^e the land of Egypt (Gen. xiii. 10) ; for 
it was of exceeding fertility. It was because the Sodomites 
had given themselves over to feaftings that they broke out 
into excess, for gluttony is ever an extreme provoker of luxury. 

Novice. —What then? is it dangerous for a monk to satisfy 
himself with bread? 

Mon\. —What I said above of lentils, I say now of bread. 
In the bread of the Sodomites we mu£t underhand the super¬ 
fluity of all kinds of foods in which they abounded. But 
our bread, which is both black and coarse is a thing of neces¬ 
sity rather than superfluity, and I think if a monk shrinks 
from it or requires it to be more tafty, he sins more deeply 
than if he satisfies himself with it. Sometimes there may be 
an extreme temptation even in such a matter as bread. 


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CHAPTER LXXX. 

Of a cler\ to whom Chrifl. offered a piece of barley 
bread that had been dipped in His own side. 

Some time ago there came to Clairvaux for conversion, a 
clerk who had lived very delicately in the world. He shrank 
with disguSf from the convent bread, which at that time was 
very coarse, and from the pease, and was wafting away with 
fear not merely of hunger, but of the food he would have to 
eat in the future. One night the Saviour appeared to him in 
a vision, holding in His hand a piece of the bread which was 
the regular food of the Brethren, and held it out to him, 
bidding him eat. The novice replied : “ Lord, I cannot eat 
barley bread.” Whereupon ChriSf dipped the same piece of 
bread in the wound in His side, and again offered it to him ; 
and when he had tafted, it became sweeter than honey in his 
mouth. From that time, he ate with great appetite both the 
bread and the other regular food, which hitherto he had scarce 
been able to touch. Underftand from this, how the devil 
tries by capricious and undue abstinence to overcome those 
whom he cannot ensnare with gluttony. 


CHAPTER LXXXI. 

Of a novice, whom the devil deceived by offering 
him the appearance of half a loaf. 

As our elder brethren are wont to tell, a demon appeared 
in Hemmenrode under the form of an angel, and for several 
days in succession showed to a certain not very wise monk the 
appearance of half a loaf upon the table, and persuaded him 
not to take more than that. The monk followed the sugges¬ 
tion of the demon, and after a short time he became so weak 
of body that his senses failed him and he died. 

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Novice. —You said above that gluttony laid low the children 
of Israel in the desert. What kind of gluttony do you think 
to have been the chief cause of that plague ? 

Mon\. —The longing for flesh. For when the Lord had 
given them manna, the bread of angels, able to content every 
man's delight and agreeing to every taSle (Wisd. xvi. 20), they 
were ungrateful for so great a mercy, and murmured against 
Moses (Num. xi. 4-6, xxi. 5). You see how great was their 
ingratitude, and with what rebellion it was accompanied? 
The punishment which swiftly followed exposed their guilt 
(Num. xi. 33). Often does the devil tempt the Religious with 
flesh, sometimes asleep, sometimes awake, now visibly and 
now invisibly. Some he conquers and by others he is over¬ 
come. 

Novice. —May I hear examples of this ? 

Mon\. —I will give you some that are not only apposite 
but also true in fad. 


CHAPTER LXXXII. 

Of the monk. Arnold to whom when sleeping in the 
choir the devil offered flesh. 

Not long ago there died among us a monk named Arnold 
who had been a canon in the church of the Holy Apoflles at 
Cologne. Before his conversion he had been a rich man and 
one was who was very dainty in his food. He used to tell 
me that the devil had sorely tempted him through gluttony, 
especially when he allowed himself to fall asleep in church. 
Sometimes, when Sanding in the choir, if he closed his eyes 
in fatigue, he perceived a dish full of meat before his mouth 
from which, as it seemed to him, he ate like a dog. And it 
sometimes happened that being filled with shame to realise 
that he was eating in such beflial fashion, he drew back his 
head and struck it sharply against the wall. 

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Of Temptation 

CHAPTER LXXXIII. 


Of a lay-brother who went to sleep at mass, and 
gnawed wood thinking it to be flesh. 

A certain lay-brother, as I heard from his own lips, was 
attending one day a private mass, and went to sleep during 
the canon. While he slept, he began to gnaw with his teeth 
the wood on which he was lying prostrate, the devil making 
him think that he was chewing flesh ; and the grinding of 
his teeth was as the sound of a mouse breaking through the 
shell of a nut. Brother Richwin, our cellarer, who was 
present at that mass, heard it, and it interfered with his 
prayers ; and when he was able to speak with the lay-brother, 
he asked him what he had between his teeth at mass, saying : 
“ I could not pray because of the noise you were making.” 
The other replied: “ Believe me, I was eating good flesh.” 
“ Where did you get it from ? ” he asked ; and the lay-brother 
answered : “ The devil prepared it during the canon, and 
thruft a dish piled up with meat under my nose. If you do 
not believe me, look at the- wood where I was lying and you 
will find in it the marks of my teeth ; ” and he went on to 
tell him how the devil had mocked him while he slept. 
Indeed the wood was found to have been gnawed by his teeth. 
Thus the enemy tries to deceive in sleep those Religious whom 
he cannot entrap with gluttony when awake. 

Hear now about a virgin whom he tempted with meat not 
when asleep, but when awake and open-eyed, but yet did not 
prevail. 


CHAPTER LXXXIV. 

Of a fa/ling virgin, to whom the devil offered a 
goose. 

There was a virgin of Nivelle who, for the love of Chris!, 
left her relations and her father’s house to live with some 

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nuns of that province, with whom she supported herself with 
the work of her own hands, and spent all her spare time in 
prayer and failing. Filled with envy of her virtues, the devil 
carried off a goose from her father’s house, and placed it on 
the bench where she was sitting with the other women, say¬ 
ing : “ Why, unhappy one, do you torture yourself with 
hunger? take this and eat.” When she answered: “ I may 
not eat of it, because it is a theft,” the devil replied: “ Cer¬ 
tainly not, for I took it from your father’s house.” Then 
the maiden : “ You cannot deny that it is a theft. Take 
away the goose at once, and put it back where you took it 
from.” He, seeing that he could gain no advantage over 
her, picked up the goose in sight of all the nuns, and carried 
it back to the shed from which he had Stolen it. Her father’s 
household bore witness that they had heard a great noise and 
clamour among the reft of the geese, both when he carried off 
the bird, and when he restored it to its place. 

I will give you two more examples, by which you may 
understand how the devil terrifies and puts men to confusion 
that he may overcome them by a longing for flesh. 


CHAPTER LXXXV. 

Of a lay-brother who ate flesh in the cellar. 

I was told by a monk I knew about a lay-brother who was 
tempted and overcome by a longing for flesh ; he was ashamed 
to ask for it, and knew of course that it was unlawful ; and 
so one day he prepared a mess of it for himself, and went into 
the cellar and ate it ; for he was a cellarer of the PremonStra- 
tensian Order. By the permission of God, the devil, since 
he could do no more, carried off the glutton, and hung him, 
like a garment, upon the roof of the belfry. While he clung 
there, or rather was supported by the devil, to whom power 
had been given rather to frighten than to kill him, he cried 

286 



Of Temptation 


out luftily, imploring his brethren’s help. They saw him 
clinging to the roof, and not knowing why, were exceedingly 
astonished, and with all hafle they climbed the tower and cut 
through the tiles, and so rescued him through the hole thus 
made. 


CHAPTER LXXXVI. 

Of a hen, whose entrails were changed into a toad. 

Not long ago, some of the monks of Priim were dining 
together on Shrove Tuesday in the house of a secular priefi, 
and they feafled on various meats and coSUy wines almost 
till midnight. Now when they had eaten their fill, near 
cockcrow the prieft called to him a grown-up scholar named 
John, who was well known to me, and said : “ Moil assuredly 
we will Still have something more to eat; go and bring the hen 
which you will find on the perch next the cock (she is usually 
fatter than all the reSl) and prepare her for us.” When the 
scholar had wrung her neck, cut her open and put in his hand 
to take out the entrails, he drew out inSIead an enormous toad. 
Now when he felt it move in his hand, and threw it away, and 
saw what it was, he uttered a loud cry of fear, that brought 
all the others out. When they saw that the hen’s entrails 
had been changed into a toad, the gueSls hurried away in 
alarm and confusion, for they recognised that it was the work 
of the devil. This was told me by one of the brethren who 
was present and saw the marvel. 

Novice .—I find fish a greater temptation to me than flesh, 
because I may eat the former, and not the latter. 

Mon \.—I think you are like the children of Israel in 
remembering the fish you ate in Egypt, that is, in the world. 

Novice .—Sometimes I cannot help remembering it. 

Mon \.—The word fish brings back to my memory a 
malicious trick which was played by the devil upon a recluse. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER LXXXVII. 

Of the recluse Herman, to whom the devil offered 
horse-dung under the guise of fish. 

Brother Gotteschalk of Volmuntflein told me that one day 
the devil assumed the form of an acquaintance and brought 
a plate of fish to Brother Herman, the recluse of Arnsberg. 
It was Slill early in the morning, and he told him to put it 
down and go away. When the time came to cook the fish, 
he found in the plate nothing but horsedung. 

Novice .-—Is it not possible that the recluse may have been 
longing for fish, and that this illusion of the devil was a 
punishment for that weakness ? 

Mon {.—That is very likely. By the faft that the children 
of Israel luSed after fish and flesh and onions and garlic, I am 
reminded of a dangerous temptation to which a penitent 
succumbed by the means of garlic. 


CHAPTER LXXXVIII. 

Of the traitor Steinhard who fell by means of garlic. 

In the diocese of Cologne there are two bands of knights, 
very Strong both in numbers and wealth, and equally 
magnanimous in honour. One of them draws its origin 
from the town of Bacheim, and the other from that of Gur- 
zenich. At one time there was between them such a violent 
and mortal hatred, that it could be allayed by none, not even 
by the bishop, who was their liege lord; but every day it was 
renewed by plunderings, burnings and murders. Those of 
Gurzenich built for themselves, on their border, a fortress in 
a wood, not indeed through fear of their enemies, but that they 
might have a place of assembly whether for security or for 
any expedition. 


288 



Of Temptation 


They had as a servant a native of the country named Stein- 
hard, to whose care they entrusted the keys of the fortress. 
He, at the instigation of the devil, secretly sent a message to 
the enemy, offering to betray both his mailers and their for¬ 
tress pretending some cause of complaint againSt them. But 
the knights of Bacheim distrusted this proposal, and gave 
little attention to his words. When he had sent the same 
messenger a second, and then a third time, they armed them¬ 
selves and came on the appointed day in a large band for fear 
of treachery, to a place near the caStle, where they waited for 
the serving man. 

When the traitor went out to them and found them Still 
hesitating, he at iaSt convinced them by bringing all the swords 
of his mailers, who were taking their mid-day sieSta in the 
fort. Then the armed band entered the building and slew 
all the knights, and received the serving-man into their own 
band as they had promised. Afterwards that miserable 
wretch was Stricken with terror and compunction for his 
execrable crime, and went to Rome, where he confessed his 
guilt and undertook a severe penance; but, yielding to tempta¬ 
tion he quickly broke his vow. Returning to the Pope he 
renewed his penitence but again failed in obedience. 

When he had done this several times, the lord penitentiary 
grew weary of him, and hoping to get rid of him, for he was 
convinced that nothing would be of any use to him, said: 
“ Can you tell me of anything that you could undertake as a 
penance, and really carry out?” He replied: “ Never have 
I been able to eat garlic; I am sure that if I were to undertake 
abstinence from that food as a penalty for my sins, I should 
never transgress.” Whereupon the confessor said: “ Go, 
and in future as a punishment for your great sins, eat no 
garlic.” 

On his way out of the city the man noticed some garlic in 
a garden, and, tempted by the devil, immediately began to 
hanker after it. He Stood Still and looked at the garlic, and 
the temptation grew urgent upon him. The longing increased 
until the unhappy man found it impossible to go away, and 
yet he dared not put out his hand to the forbidden herb. 
Why make a long Story of it ? At length gluttony conquered 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


obedience, he went into the garden and ate. Wonderful to 
relate the garlic which he never could touch, even when cooked 
and carefully prepared, so long as he might eat it without sin, 
now he devoured raw and unripe, because a prohibition was 
laid upon it. Thus vilely conquered by temptation, he 
returned to the papal court in much confusion and told what 
he had done. But the penitentiary drove him away in anger, 
and ordered him never to trouble him again. What became 
of the wretched man finally, I have never heard. 

Novice .—Unhappy is the nature of man, which is thus 
prone to transgression! But will you tell me in what kind 
of gluttony sinned that man of God, who was slain by a lion 
for eating in Bethel ? 

Mon \.—Not for eating, but for eating againft the Divine 
command, and because he was beguiled into eating in a for¬ 
bidden place, did he incur such a punishment. How great 
is the guilt of eating or drinking in defiance of a command, 
whether the food be lawful or unlawful, I will make clear 
to you by a few examples. 


CHAPTER LXXXIX. 

Of the Provo.il Florinus, in whose throat a morsel 
of flesh Sluc\. 

MaSter Absalon, an honourable and learned man, canon 
of the Church of S. Victor in Paris, was elected abbot of Sprin- 
girsbach some years ago. Before he came to take up his 
election, one of the brethren in a dream saw a lighted candle 
enter the monastery, which with its own light rekindled the 
extinguished candles carried in the hands of all the brethren. 
The interpretation of this vision seemed to be that one was 
coming who would reStore the relaxed discipline of the mona¬ 
stery. In truth, when he became abbot he introduced honour¬ 
able cuStoms which he had learnt in his own convent, teaching 


290 



Of Temptation 


among other things that both the brethren and sifters of the 
community, as well as their provoft should without exception 
abftain from the eating of flesh. Later it happened that a 
certain secular matron took the habit in the Isle of S. Nicholas, 
which convent belonged to Springirsbach. 

On the day this woman took the veil her friends were 
dining with the provoft of the nuns by name Florinus, a 
very fat man, and well known to me. While all the reft were 
feeding on flesh and he on fish, in accordance with the order 
of his abbot Absalon, he saw on the plate of the clerk sitting 
next to him a mess of flesh, and immediately conceived a 
desire for it; and putting out his hand, he picked up a small 
piece, and with a jeft put it into his mouth. At once, by the 
juft judgment of God for his disobedience, this morsel 
descended whole into his throat, so that it obftrufted the 
passage, nor could he by any effort bring it back into his 
mouth or swallow it down. They carried him from the 
table, and it seemed by his upturned eyes that he muft be 
suffocated, when the monk Henry, our chamberlain, and at 
that time dean of Mayenfeld, ftruck him, as he told me him¬ 
self, so severe a blow with his fift on the back of the neck, that 
the obftruftion was dislodged. And all realised that the pain 
and confusion that had fallen on the provoft was a punishment 
for his disobedience. But I wish you to understand that it 
is not only with the desire of flesh that the devil tempts men, 
but also with the longing for wine. 


CHAPTER XC. 

Of the cellarer, who suffering from thirSl after 
compline, was delivered in making his reverence. 

One evening after compline, a monk of our Order, who 
held the office of cellarer, was attacked with intolerable thirft, 
by the agency of the devil, as afterwards became clear. For a 
while he wavered, and debated whether to break the rule and 


291 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

drink, or to abstain at the risk of his life; but at laft the tempta¬ 
tion gained the upper hand, and he made up his mind to go 
into the cellar and drink. Meanwhile he had to go through 
the church, and when passing before a certain altar, he made 
his customary reverence very carelessly, because his mind was 
wholly set upon allaying his thirft. After he had gone a little 
way further, he turned and came back in shame to this same 
altar, Stood Still before it and bowed his head with great rever¬ 
ence. When he Stood upright again he saw beside him a 
demon in the form of a monk clad in black, who said : “ Let 
me tell you that if you had not returned to make your rever¬ 
ence, I would have given you such a drink in the cellar that 
you would never have been able to digeSt it as long as you 
lived.” Then the devil disappeared and the whole tempta¬ 
tion of the thirSt he had implanted vanished with him. This 
was told me by Dom EuStace the abbot of Hemmenrode, who 
said that it happened seven years ago. 

Novice .—In the future I shall be more zealous to make 
deep reverences. 

Monl {.—The devil hates every form of humility, especially 
that by which man acknowledges God as his Creator and him¬ 
self as His creature. When he sees a man devoutly show to 
God this homage, which he himself spurned to do, because 
he desired to set himself on an equality with God, he cannot 
endure the sight, and flees away in confusion. Wherefore 
Philip the abbot of Ottenburg, a wise and learned man, of 
whom I spoke above, used to teach the sifters of the Isle of 
S. Nicholas, as I have heard from them, in these words: 
“ When the devil tempts you, make a deep reverence in some 
place where reverence is due, and forthwith he will flee from 
you.” Places where reverence is due are altars, or before a 
crucifix or the relics of saints; let us bow our heads also at the 
Gloria Patri, and also to the abbot, and in all those other 
places which the rule prescribes. 

Will you hear now of one who was enticed away from the 
Order by gluttony, and especially by a longing for wine? 

Novice. —Yes, indeed; for many are troubled with a long¬ 
ing for wine, which sometimes causes even the wise to apofta- 
tise. 


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Of Temptation 


Mon \.—I will tell you of a terrible vision which I heard 
from him to whom the sight of it was granted. 


CHAPTER XCI. 

Of Henry nicknamed Fikere. 

There died a few years ago one of our senior monks, 
Herman by name, a man of good and ftridl life, who was pre¬ 
centor of our convent. This man had several visions, one of 
which I propose to insert here as an example. Soon after 
he became monk in Hemmenrode, he had a certain other 
monk as his next door neighbour both in the choir and in the 
refectory. Several times during the psalms in church he saw 
cups of wine before the face of this man. He saw these cups 
with his eyes wide open, and perceived the odour of the wine, 
but could not see any hands that held them. And while he 
was wondering over these things, others took the shape before 
his eyes by the agency of the devil. For in sleep one night 
he saw a bear {landing on its hind legs in front of that other 
monk, putting its paws upon his breafl, and joining his mouth 
to the ear of the sleeper. 

Not long after he apoflatised, following the counsel of the 
devil; for not without reason did the devil entice him away 
under the appearance of a bear; for the name itself suggests 
the fa<ff that it bears offspring by the breath of its mouth, and 
the devil generated in him such a headlong flow of words, that 
because of his eloquence he became popular with kings and 
princes. The name of this monk was Henry, and he was 
nicknamed Fikere. He had been received as a novice by 
Dom Gisilbert the abbot, who, when he learnt through con¬ 
fession that he had been a Benedictine, took away his pre¬ 
centor’s cassock and gave him a cowl; for he is said to have 
been of the Premonftratensian Order. I have heard that 
before that he had pretended to be a woman, and had been 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


received as a woman into a certain convent of nuns, some of 
whom he corrupted and ruined. At this time he is playing 
the part of an a< 5 tor, and perhaps does worse things than that. 
Let this be enough about gluttony, because I wish to pass on 
to the vice of luxury. 


CHAPTER XCII. 

Of luxury and her daughters. 

Luxury is the wanton and unbridled prostitution of mind 
and body, arising from unclean desires. Her daughters arc 
self-love, hatred of God, love of the present world, horror or 
despair of the future, rashness, inconstancy, inconsiderateness, 
a blinded mind. The degrees of luxury are fornication, 
debauchery, adultery, inceSt, unnatural vice. Luxury, like 
gluttony, has wrought the greatest evils in the world; it was 
the chief cause of the flood; it destroyed the five cities with 
fire and brimStone; it imprisoned the holy Joseph; it laid low 
numbers of the children of Israel in the desert; this took place 
when they sinned with the Midianites and joined themselves 
to Baal-peor. It was luxury that bound, weakened and 
blinded the mighty Samson; it deprived the sons of Eli of the 
glory of the prieSthood and of life itself. It was luxury that 
made an adulterer and murderer of David, the man after 
God’s own heart. It infatuated the wise Solomon and led 
him into idolatry; it condemned Susanna and beheaded John 
the BaptiSl. Of luxury God speaks through Hosea (ix. 15). 
Joel also (i. 17, Vulg). Behemoth, according to Job, lieth 
under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens 
(Job xl. 21), i.e. in places of luxury. When the two excuse 
themselves in the gospel, he, who had married a wife, 
answered haughtily, saying : / have married a wife, and there¬ 
fore l cannot come (Luke xiv. 20). 


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Of' Temptation 


Novice. —Why does the Lord in the gospel forbid gluttony 
dire&ly, and luxury under a figure (Luke xxi. 34 ; xii. 35)? 

Monl(. —The Creator knew that in all nature luxury arises 
from gluttony and is nourished by its stimulants; the kinship of 
the two vices is indicated by the proximity of their organs. It 
is as if the Lord had said: " That you may escape luxury, 
indulge the appetite sparingly Deprived of food and wine, 
luxury is Starved (Ter. Eun. iv. 5, 6). There are three chief 
incitements to luxury: high living, coStly dress, and idleness. 
It was of these three which the prophet declared to be the 
iniquity of Sodom; to wit, fulness of bread i.e. gluttony, pride 
of life, i.e. coStly clothing, which provokes luSt, and abundance 
of idleness in her sons and daughters (Ezek. xvi. 49). Idle¬ 
ness of itself teaches many evils, as Solomon says; it was 
because of idleness that David sinned with Bathsheba; where¬ 
fore a poet says: “ If idleness be removed, the arts of Cupid 
perish (Ov. Rem. Am. 139). Luxury is an evil beaSt that 
nates chafhty, spares neither sex, and suffers scarcely any to be 
at peace. It awakes the sleeper, it disturbs the wakeful, now 
by natural emotions, now by thoughts, and now by objects 
placed before his eyes. It tempts the beginner, it tempts the 
full-grown saint, it tempts even the perfedt. 

Novice. —Much have I heard of the dangers of luxury, and 
of the remedies againSt it; I pray you now to give me examples. 

Mon){. —I will not speak of those who have fallen by con¬ 
senting to luxury, but of those who have been tempted and 
shaken, and yet have been preserved by the grace of God. 


CHAPTER XC 1 II. 

Of a converted \night whom his wife drove to win 
bac\ during his time of probation. 

A certain wealthy and honourable knight, who had been 
separated ecclesiastically from his wife, came for conversion to 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


a house of our Order. To this house he assigned all his 
property, on condition that a certain life-pension should be 
paid to his wife, who had undertaken to live the life of a 
religious in a convent. I will not name either the knight or 
the monastery, left perchance any of those I shall speak of 
may be ftill alive, and suffer shame. 

When he began his noviciate, the devil so inflamed the 
wife that she refused to keep the pad: and demanded the return 
of the husband who had now become a monk. This of course 
produced no result, whereupon she came to the monaftery 
with some friends of hers to lay an ambush for him, and 
succeeded in a petition to be permitted to speak with him out¬ 
side the monaftery walls. Here he was seized upon by the 
knights, her friends, who tried to put him on a horse to carry 
him off; but no sooner did they lift him up on one side than 
he slipped off on the other; and finding that they could in no 
way succeed, they went home with the matron. 

All that year she gave no further sign, but when his proba¬ 
tion was over, it became necessary for him to pay a visit to his 
house, and there he found his wife. She, pretending that she 
wished to speak with him in private, took him into a room, 
and having quietly closed the door behind him, began to woo 
him with kisses and embraces; for she hoped that if she could 
induce him to sin, he would leave the Order and come back 
to her. But Chrift, the Son of the pure Virgin, who delivered 
the innocent boy Joseph from the hands of the adulterers, 
delivered also this soldier of His from the unlawful embraces 
of his lawful wife. For he shook himself free of her arms, 
and came forth uninjured, unsinged by the flame. 

Novice .—This was indeed a great temptation. 

Mon \.—Greater ftill was that which follows. 



Of Temptation 


CHAPTER XCIV. 

Of the grievous temptation of Richwin the cellarer 
by the letter of a nun. 

A certain youth of Cologne, Richwin by name, entered 
upon his noviciate in our house. He passed some time 
of his probation in much devotion and tranquillity, quietly 
learning the life of the Order. The devil, envying his peace 
and safety, furred up so violent a war in his heart by means 
of a nun of the blessed Cecilia, whose convent was in that 
town, and wounded his flesh so deeply with the flings of 
desire that he could find no peace. 

She composed and wrote out a letter of withdrawal from his 
vows, in which she denounced his conversion, and exhorted 
him to return to the world, saying that herself, her house and 
prebend, and all that she had were in his hands for the refl of 
his life, if he would come to her. She sent this letter by a 
servant, and while he was enquiring for the novice, Henry, 
Richwin’s brother, who is now our cellarer, met the man and 
refused to allow him to speak with him, but ordered him to 
leave the monaflery at once, for he feared the very thing which 
afterwards happened. The servant, however, waited for the 
novice in the church, gave him the letter and went away. 
The reading of the letter inflamed him as if a burning javelin 
had been driven into his heart; and from that hour he was so 
flrongly tempted, that time and again he made up his mind to 
return to the world, but yet was always held back by the pious 
prayers and exhortations of the brethren. 

One day when he was undergoing his trial by himself, he 
threw himself face downward upon the ground, firetching 
out his feet over the theshold of his cell, and crying with a 
loud voice: “ Unless, devil, thou drag me away by the feet, 
never will I follow thee.” At laft by the grace of God he 
triumphed, and became a monk. When I asked him if he 
ftill felt any traces of the old thoughts, he replied: “ Truly, 
brother, those temptations which used to pierce my heart now 
scarcely touch the hem of my garment.” Later he became 

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our senior cellarer, and held that office until his death. Here 
is an example of how the devil sometimes tempts the beginner, 
the coming examples will show you how he tempts the full 
grown saint. 


CHAPTER XCV. 

Of a young mon\ who was delivered from the 
temptation of the flesh by the words: “ O devil, my 
confessor commands thee to cease from tempt¬ 
ing me.” 

The abbot Herman, who was at that time prior in Hem- 
menrode told me of a young monk there who was grievously 
tempted by the luSts of the flesh. With tears he confessed 
how this temptation was afflicting him, and the prior consoled 
him, and said : “ When next you are attacked with the flings 
of the flesh, say thus to the devil in a loud voice : ‘ Devil, my 
confessor orders thee to cease from tempting me.’ ” Later, 
when the same temptation came upon him, and he was sore 
beset, simply and confidently and in a loud voice, as he had 
been instructed, he cried out againSt the demon: “ O devil, 
my confessor commands thee to cease from tempting me.” 
Wonderful is the virtue of confession! At this word, the 
devil, the spirit of fornication, fled in confusion and the tempta¬ 
tion passed. 

Novice. —How do you know that this temptation came 
from the devil? 

Mon\. —The apoStle calls the Sting of the flesh “ a messen¬ 
ger from Satan,” because it troubled and inflamed him. 

Novice. —Am I right in thinking that confession is very 
necessary againSt the temptations of the flesh? 

Mon\. —About this we have already spoken much in the 
book upon confession. Truly in confession the fuel of sin is 
diminished, the temptation ceases or is restrained, grace is 

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Of Temptation 


increased, the penitent is Strengthened by counsel, the devil is 
confounded and weakened. At other times when this monk 
was harassed by the same temptation, he repeated the above 
words according to the advice of his prieSf, and added these : 
“Why, O devil, doSt thou trouble me? Thou canSt not 
tempt me more than is allowed by God, who is thy Lord as 
well as mine.” And at once he felt himself helped, for that 
proud spirit cannot endure a saying like this which lowers his 
pride. 


CHAPTER XCV1. 

Of the temptations of a mon\ who won an imperial 
crown by his resistance. 

Another monk, an older man, and more fervent in his 
religious life than he of whom I have juSl spoken, was attacked 
by the spirit of luxury in many ways hard to be borne. Once 
when he was in the infirmary, he was Standing after matins 
in an angle of the cloiSler, and using the angelic salutation in 
prayer, when the devil came behind him and hurled at him 
a flaming dart, so that the monk saw it fly paSf his face, saw 
how it glittered and how its reflection shone upon the wall. 
Finding that he was not to be terrified by this, nor driven 
from the place where he was praying, the fiend Stirred up 
about him so great a noise, that the whole floor of the doiSfer 
where he was Standing seemed to resound with the clatter of 
the boots of the monks running hither and thither. Then as he 
cared nothing for this phantasm, and was going away after 
finishing his prayer, he saw as it were a multitude of Moors 
pursuing him. Another time the spirit of fornication, whose 
breath sets coals on fire, burnt his body with an intolerable 
flame of luSt. Now that venerable man, thinking upon the 
devil’s importunity broke out with a loud voice into these 
words: “ Why doSI thou thus cruelly torture me, O devil, for 


299 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


thou canSt not accomplish againSt me more than God permits. 
He, who is my Lord, is thy Lord also.” The truth thus 
expressed is that of the confessor of the laSt Story. When he 
said this, the tempter left him in the following manner. 

Indeed, after this utterance, it seemed to him that something 
moving began at once gradually and painfully to creep down 
his head paSt either ear to his neck, then down his shoulders 
and sides, and slowly descending through his thighs and legs, 
went out at his heels. And as the monk himself told me, 
that spirit’s progress was so gradual, as has been said, that 
if could be felt in one place and not in another; and as soon 
as it passed out through his feet and fled away, the fire, which 
it had kindled, died down, and all temptation ceased. 

Novice .—I wonder if he had offered any opportunity to the 
spirit of fornication, which thus terribly tormented him ? 

Mon \.—He told me himself that one day he, with the 
abbot, was visiting a certain convent of nuns, and a matron of 
that community, who had been well known to him before his 
conversion, placed her arm upon his shoulder and looked into 
his eyes. No doubt he thought about this more than was 
fitting, though indeed at the time he felt no kind of temptation 
from it, but afterwards, when the devil brought back to his 
mind that gaze of hers, he was so tempted from that time 
forward for several years, that life became a weariness to him. 
For the greater perfe<5tion a man has reached, so much the 
more is he bound to keep guard over his senses, especially 
touch and sight; touch, because, as we read in Vitaspatrum, the 
body of a woman is a fire, and sight, because death enters in 
by the windows of the eyes. How great merit that monk won 
in temptation the following Story will tell you. When the 
aforesaid Herman, now abbot of MarienStatt, was prior in 
Hemmenrode, this monk was tempted one night with a 
temptation, not only violent but exceeding perilous; for as the 
prior learnt from his confession, such were the conditions of 
that temptation that he would have satisfied it in as brief a 
time as it takes to turn the hand, if the will to sin had been 
present. I think indeed that it was a trial of the flesh. He 
was attacked Strongly; he resisted manfully; he overcame 
gloriously. 


300 



Of Temptation 


That same week there came to the prior a certain simple- 
minded lay-brother from one of the granges, saying that he 
wished to speak with him privately. And when the oppor¬ 
tunity was given him, he said: “ My lord prior, during this 
pafl week 1 have had a vision in a dream; there flood before 
me a mighty column, and an iron nail was driven into it, and 
upon that iron nail there hung a moff beautiful crown, like 
the crown of our emperor. And there was present there a 
moff glorious Lord, who took the crown from the nail with 
both his hands, and, placing it in my hands, said thus: ‘ Take 
this crown, and carry it to the monk,’ and here he mentioned 
him by name, ‘ because he has won it this night.’ ” Imme¬ 
diately the prior, who knew of the monk’s temptation, under¬ 
stood the vision, and interpreted the Strong column as the 
monk, invincible under temptation, the nail which seemed 
to be of Steel, as the hard temptation he had undergone and the 
crown as the reward of his toil (Apoc. iii. 12). That the 
crown was hung upon the column, i.e. that the due reward 
was given to victory, the apoStle bears witness ( 2 Tim. iv. 7, 8). 

Novice. —Of what fight is the apoStle here speaking ? 

Mon\.—Oi that which ever goes on againSt the triple foe; 
to wit, the flesh, the world and the devil. In times of peace 
it is as pleasing to God that the faithful should always be 
fighting with vices and evil desires to preserve his innocence, 
as that he should expose his body to the sword and to torture 
in times of persecution. Whence comes that hymn of the 
Church: “ The confessor, who suftains such things in the 
fight, runs his course as well as the martyr who suffers him¬ 
self to be pierced and pours forth his blood by the sword." 

Novice. —Still, I cannot cease from wondering that God, 
who is purity itself, should allow religious, holy and perfect 
men to be oppressed with these unclean temptations, and some¬ 
times for a long time. 

Mon\. —This is believed to arise according to the dispensa¬ 
tion of Divine mercy from two causes; to wit, for the pro¬ 
tection of humility, and for the provision of material on which 
virtue may be exercised. Who in this world has been 
greater than the apoftle ? and yet it is he who says: Lett I 
should be exalted above measure by the abundance of the 


3 01 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, a 
messenger from Satan to buflet me (2 Cor. xii. 7). As the 
scripture tells us: remnants of the unclean races were left in 
the promised land that Israel might be proved by them (Judg. 
iii. 4). For when it so pleases God, in one hour He takes 
away all our temptations. 


CHAPTER XCVII. 

Of the temptation of the mon\ Bernard, who in a 
dream saw himself made an eunuch. 

There is a certain prieSt and monk in Clairvaux, if indeed 
he is Still alive, noble in birth but far more noble in virtue, 
named Bernard; he at one time was so vexed and troubled by 
Satan through the goad of the flesh, that he was already deter¬ 
mining to give way altogether to temptation, and to return, 
after all his vain Striving, to the world. He had confessed 
this afflidtion once, twice, and many times, but Still he could 
gain no relief. At length as if conquered, he went to the 
prior, and asked him to give him a cloak, saying that he meant 
to return to the world, because he felt that he muSt marry. 
After many prayers the prior persuaded him to wait at any 
rate for that night. He waited, and the Lord, who saves 
them that put their truSl in Him, comforted him that night in 
a dream, like those blessed magi, whom he warned not to 
return to Herod. 

Scarcely had he fallen asleep, than behold, afar off, he saw a 
horrible man, like an executioner, hastening towards him with 
a long knife in his hand. At this sight he trembled, and no 
wonder. For he thought that the man rushed upon him with 
terrible swiftness and cruelly mutilated him. Then awake- 
ing from the horror of this nightmare he thought that he had 
been made an eunuch, which indeed was true, though not 
as the vision showed, with a material knife, but by spiritual 


302 



Of Temptation 


grace. In the morning he went to the prior, and told him 
how he had been delivered, and recounted to him all the 
vision; and the prior glorified God who had delivered His 
servant Bernard so marvellously and so swiftly. It is said that 
to this day he is virgin of his body; and this Story is very 
celebrated in our Order. 

Novice .—If holy men are thus foully tempted, I shall not 
now be so ashamed as hitherto to confess my own unclean 
temptations; always have I been afraid that my confessors 
would despise me, if I disclosed anything foul. 

Mon \.—No wise confessor will despise anyone who accuses 
himself; rather will he comfort him, fearing left he himself 
should be led into similar temptation. I know that such a 
thing has happened to an aged and saintly prieft. 


CHAPTER XCVII 1 . 

The life of Dom Everard, the vicar of S. fames. 

There was a holy and spiritually-minded prieSt who had 
charge of the parish of S. James the Apoftle at Cologne, and 
was illuftrious for the splendour of his many virtues. For 
indeed he was learned, humble, chaste and genial, the father 
of the poor, the protector of the religious, a lover of the whole 
Christian community, dear to God, and beloved by the whole 
city. It was this Dom Everard, the vicar of S. James, who 
foresaw the conversion of our abbot Gevard, as was told in 
the seventh chapter of the firft book. All the virtues, that 
the blessed Job claims for himself, had been beftowed in great 
abundance on this righteous man by Divine grace. When in 
Lent, the sons of the citizens, young men brought up in luxury, 
came to him to confess their sins, which were chiefly the 
fleshly sins so much foftered by cofily living, because he had 
never experienced such temptations, he used to upbraid them 
sometimes more harshly than was expedient, saying: “ It is 

3°3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


disgraceful that Christian men should be agitated by such foul 
emotions,” and thus he discouraged the weakly, and brought 
upon them some measure of despair. But the juft and merci¬ 
ful God, who, for the benefit of the flock, suffered Peter to 
fall, taught His beloved servant by the scourge of temptation, 
and that he might learn to compassionate the fallen, permitted 
him a similar afflidion (2 Cor. xii. 7). From this he learnt in 
his own person how he ought to heal others. 

At the time when abbot Herman, of whom I spoke above, 
was newly made a monk, he was tempted and diftressed by 
the dings of the flesh, and having heard the fame of this vicar’s 
sandity, he went to him in the hope that his merits and 
prayers might bring him some relief, and found him making 
his preparation for the mass. He had intended to make his 
confession, but as there was no time then to do this, he said 
secretly in his ear : “ Father, I am grievously tormented by 
the dings of the flesh; ask God to deliver me.” The other 
looked at him and replied abruptly in a loud voice: “ Truly 
I am tormented in the same way; how then shall I be able to 
pray for you?” And as Herman told me himself, he went 
away much helped by the knowledge that a man, so holy and 
so aged, suffered the same temptations as himself. I was 
told by another monk and pried, who knew much about his 
life, that when at mass he offered the kiss of peace to any 
of the clerks, he, to avoid temptation, touched with his mouth 
any part of the other’s face, to avoid kissing him. 

Since Strength is made perfect in weakness, the Lord once 
tempted and afflided His beloved with violent pains in the 
head, such as, in one commentary upon the Apoftle, are called 
the thorn in the flesh, so severe that he grew weary of life. 
He found himself unable to pray or to read, and went to a 
celebrated physician, and asked him, for Chrid’s sake, to give 
him some advice againd this continuous pain. The other, 
more intent upon money than upon any heavenly reward, 
answered: “If you will pay me three marks, I will cure you 
easily.” To whom the holy man replied : “ I do not possess 
three marks, but I will willingly pay you the half of that 
sum but the dodor said: “ I cannot work for so little.” 
Then he : “ If I had three marks, I would rather give them to 

3°4 



Of Temptation 


the poor than to you; I commit my sickness to God.” Juft 
are the judgments of the Lord. When the blessed man had 
said this and gone away, that very hour the pains in the head 
completely passed from him and attacked the doftor. None 
of the volume of the sickness was diminished, nothing of its 
nature or of its symptoms was altered (Luke iv. 23). This 
miracle was related at table in my hearing by a canon of S. 
Severinus, by name Rudolf, by profession himself a doftor. 

Novice .—Since the fame of this venerable prieft is so widely 
spread in Cologne, I beg of you to be kind enough to tell me 
anything edifying about him that you may have heard. 

Mon \.—I have gathered only a few of his many afts, but 
these I will tell you. One day he was carrying the body of 
the Lord in a pyx to communicate a sick man and had come 
into the High Street, which is very narrow, and along which 
I have often walked myself, and 1 know it to be a ftreet very 
muddy and filthy, and it was here that he met a firing of asses 
laden with corn. On one side the sacks touched the wall, 
and on the other hung over the kennel. The scholar, who 
was going before him with a lantern, did indeed get through 
with much difficulty, now driving the asses out of the way, 
and now being driven by them. The prieft, seeing this, and 
considering that he was a man both old and infirm, began to 
tremble and grow pale, fearing that he might be pushed by 
the asses and hurled with the Blessed Sacrament into the mud. 
It was necessary that this trial should exercise the man of God 
that his faith might shine the brighter. Perceiving that no 
human help was available, and inspired by Him, whom he 
was carrying, he broke into these words: “ What are you 
doing, O asses, do you not consider whom I am carrying in 
my hands? Stand Still, come down from the highway into 
the kennel, give honour to your Creator, for in His name 1 
give you this command.” Wonderful obedience of the dumb 
animals. At the word of the prieft they all flood Still, they all 
came down into the kennel. Miracle was added to miracle; 
for though the descent was not easy, not a single sack slipped 
from the back of any of the beafls. The saintly man mar¬ 
velled at their obedience and glorified God, and came to his 
sick parishioner without mishap. This aft of his is well 


305 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


known to this day in the city of Cologne. How great 
humility was his, the following incident will show. 

It was his regular habit to invite the poor to his dinner 
table; and it happened one day that two were brought in, one 
of whom was so afflicted and so revolting to look upon that 
the other refused to sit at the same table with him. A little 
table had been prepared for them opposite the priett; and when 
the man of God had considered the case, honouring Chritt in 
His poor, he called the despised pauper to him, and bade them 
place a seat for him at his own table, and did not hesitate to 
eat from the same dish with him, and drink from the same cup. 

It is said also to have been his custom to have delicate 
meats often prepared both for his friends and guetts and 
also for the sick poor whom he knew to be bedridden in 
their homes. And when these dishes were laid before him, 
he examined them carefully, inhaled their odour, turned 
them about with his hand, that thus he might be tempted 
the more by provoking his appetite, and might deserve the 
more by not satisfying it for Chris’s sake. Then he would 
say to his servant: “ Take this dish to such a widow, or to 
such a poor or sick man, for truly they need it more than I.” 

Though by works of this kind his light was shining 
brightly in the House of God, yet it pleased his Matter that 
the following occasion should make it yet more radiant. 
Dom Philip, the archbishop of Cologne was heavily weighed 
down by debt because of the cattle he had bought for the 
Blessed Peter, and being told by some that the vicar of S. 
James had great sums of money laid by, he sent messengers 
to borrow the money. The priett told them that he had no 
money, and gave them the keys of his ttrong box ; wherein 
the only thing discovered was a pair of leather shoes, carefully 
greased, which he had bought to give to the poor. The 
messengers returned with shame, and told the bishop these 
things ; and he, fearing for his own soul, as a certain clerk 
told me, sent for the venerable priett, and threw himself at 
his feet, entreating pardon for the wrong he had offered him. 

Our Order was especially dear to him, and he wished to 
take the vows in it, but was dissuaded by certain abbots of 
the same Order, as I underttood, because they knew the 

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Of Temptation 


great holiness o£ his life, and felt that it was essential for 
those who were Still in the. world. Full of years and virtues, 
he departed to be with the Lord, and was buried in the church 
of the Blessed George the Martyr. 

Novice. —If luxury can tempt a man so aged and so holy, 
1 shall never again be surprised that it attacks the young. 

Mon\. —As I said, there is scarcely any age that luxury 
spares (Gen. xlviv. 17). Here are examples. 


CHAPTER XCIX. 

Of a clerk in Sod! who was burnt to death on an 
accusation of adultery. 

Not long ago there was a clerk who had come to SoeSt 
from another diflrift; his name was Herman, he was young, 
and comely both in face and figure. On whom a woman 
who lived in that town caft her eyes, and became so 
enamoured of him that she said : “ All that I have shall be 
yours, if you will love me.” But the youth remembered S. 
Joseph, and despised all her protestations and promises ; 
and when she found that she could gain nothing, she accused 
him before the judges of assaulting her. He denied the 
charge, but was not believed, and was thrufl into a close 
prison, to wit, the cell for malefadtors awaiting death. She, 
under the goad of luff, pretending that the clerk had made 
her mad, climbed the wall with a ladder, threw herself down, 
embraced the youth, and implored him to consent to her : 
but not even so did she gain anything. 

When the judges heard of it, they drew forth the innocent 
youth and sent him to the flake as if he had been a vile 
magician. And when he was half consumed in the flames, 
so that his breafl was burft and his lungs exposed, then,. 
in a loud voice so that all could hear, he chanted the angelic 

3°7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


salutation of the Ave Maria. Immediately one of the by¬ 
standers, a relation of the woman, snatched up a burning 
coal and thruSt it into his mouth, crying: “ I will put a Stop 
to those prayers of yours,” and so choked him. What need 
of more? He died, and his bones were buried in the open 
field. At his tomb lights were often seen, and miracles were 
wrought. Then the kinsfolk of the aforesaid adulteress were 
terrified, proStrated themselves before the feet of the canons 
of S. Patroclus, entreated for pardon and undertook penance 
for the death of the righteous ; later a church was built 
over his tomb. Luxury, in the form of a woman, li^e a 
serpent in the way, i.e. openly, attacked this youth and burnt 
his body, but did not overcome his soul. To another it 
came as an adder in the path, as follows. 


CHAPTER C. 

Of a lay-brother, at whose feet a serving girl made 
her bed. 

A few years ago, a lay-brother, whom I knew well, a 
devout and upright man, had conducted into Flanders a 
barge containing wine of his monastery. One night, the 
maid servant of his ho$t, after preparing as usual a bed for 
him in the upper room of the house, laid another bed for 
herself at the lay-brother’s feet. When he had said compline, 
he went to bed ; and as the light was out, she undressed 
silently, and lay down in the bed she had prepared, touching 
the feet of the lay-brother with her bare feet, and coughing 
to let him know that she was there. But the lay-brother 
never perceived the wiles of this adder, thinking that the 
bed had been prepared for some other man. She bit the 
heels of the horse, i.e. of the lay-brother, but its rider, i.e. 
the spirit of the man, did not fall backwards by any consent ; 
for as soon as he heard a woman’s voice, he got up forthwith, 

308 



Of Temptation 


dressed himself, went to the window of the room, and there, 
occupied in prayer, awaited the morning. For some time 
she remained in suspense, and at laSt arose, and Stole down¬ 
stairs in confusion. 

Novice. —What is this certifies, or horned adder that you 
speak of? 

Mon\. —It is a serpent that has horns, horns that are 
sharper than any Steel, with a double edge like a sword. 
The Greek word for horns is cerata. Luxury is a ceraStes, 
because it not only slays the soul, but also irreparably corrupts 
the body (i Cor. vi. 18). 


CHAPTER Cl. 

Of a provofl who on his death bed sinned with a 
woman in hope of recovery. 

I remember a prieSt who was provoSt in an Order of 
Regulars, whom luxury, very insidiously and very perilously, 
tossed on its horns by means of a woman. For when he 
was in very sore sickness, he was told by the dodlor, or rather 
by the devil through the mouth of the dodtor, that he could 
not get well unless he consorted with a woman. He, think¬ 
ing only of this present life, and forgetful of the future, 
did this. Nevertheless it profited him nothing, but rather 
injured him, for within a few days he died. And thus by 
the persuasion of the old serpent, the time of penance became 
for him a time of sin. The judgment of his soul I leave 
to God. These things were told me in the very house where 
he had been provoSt by a priest of the same Order, known 
to me both by sight and name. 

Novice. —We spoke before of that maxim of the holy Job : 
the life of man upon the earth is temptation ; is not this to 
be underwood about both sexes? 

309 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —Certainly ; because the word man, as used here, 
includes both sexes, and both sexes are subjed to the same 
emotions. And as the devil overthrows and enervates men 
by means of women, so by means of men does he win over 
a multitude of women. Whence it is said of him by the 
Lord to Job : Lo, now his flrength is in his loins, and his 
force is in the naval of his belly. Upon which passage S. 
Gregory says that luxury lies for men in the loins and for 
women in the naval. And how greatly they are sometimes 
tempted I will show you by examples. 


CHAPTER CII. 

Of a chdtelaine who checked the fling of the flesh 
in water. 

A noble matron, as was told me by a prieSl who was also 
a monk, was one day left alone in her caftle ; and I know 
not what she was doing or thinking, but the spirit of forni¬ 
cation did not suffer her to remain alone, for suddenly she 
was so violently inflamed that she ran hither and thither, 
and could neither Stand nor sit, as if she had received a 
burning iron into her body. When she could no longer 
endure the torment, she caSt aside all thought of honour, 
went down to the porter of the caStle, and besought him 
with much urgency to lie with her. But he, being a good 
man, replied: “ What is this, lady ? are you mad ? Think 
of God, think of your own honour.” She, caring nothing 
for either, when she saw herself repulsed by the porter, went 
out of the caSlle, ran to the river which flowed by the walls, 
threw herself into its cold waters and remained there until 
she had quenched all the smouldering fuel of her desire. 
Then she went back to the porter, thanked him for his 
refusal and said : “ If anyone were now to offer me a thousand 
marks of gold, I would not suffer what I asked from you 

310 



Of Temptation 


a little while ago ; ” and she returned to her own rooms. 
The merciful Lord adts like a loving mother, who permits 
her beloved child to crawl near the fire and enjoy the warmth, 
but when it wishes to enter it, she draws it back with 
exceeding hafte. Of this you will hear more fully in the 
following chapter. 


CHAPTER CIII. 

Of a nun in England who found temptation in 
the president of her convent . 

In England there was a certain spiritually-minded man 
who was set to preside over a convent of nuns. Now he 
was of tall Mature, and comely to look upon, with ruddy 
cheeks and bright eyes, so that scarcely any, who were 
ignorant of his spiritual qualities, would have guessed at 
the depth of his religion. One of the younger nuns of that 
community, by often gazing upon him, began to be so 
tempted and so grievously troubled by the Stings of the flesh, 
that at laSt she put away all modeSty and opened to him 
her passion. The holy man, having the fear of God before 
his eyes, was horrified, and tried by all means in his power 
to divert the maiden’s thoughts, saying: “ You are the 
spouse of ChriSt; if I were to corrupt the spouse of my Lord, 
He would not suffer it to pass with impunity ; neither could 
such a crime long lie hidden from the eyes of men.” Then 
she said that if he would not consent, she would die ; and 
he replied: “ Since it cannot be otherwise, let it be as you 
wish. Where then shall we meet? ” She answered : “ This 
night I will come to you wherever you may appoint.” Then 
he said : “ No, it muSt take place in daylight ” ; and he 
showed the maiden a shed in the orchard, solemnly charging 
her to come thither at a certain hour without anyone seeing 
or knowing. She came, and the man of God said to her: 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


“ Lady, it is right and expedient for you that you should 
firSt see this body of mine, which you so eagerly desire, and 
then if it Still pleases you, you can satisfy yourself with it.” 
When he had thus spoken and she remained silent, he put 
off his garments, took off the rough hair shirt which he wore 
next his person, and showed her his naked body, eaten with 
vermin, scarred with the hair shirt, covered with sores, and 
black with grime, and said : “ See what it is that you love, 
and take your pleasure if you Still desire it.” 

When she saw this proof of his auSterity, her heart sank 
within her, and turning now red and now pale, she cast 
herself at his feet and besought pardon. Then he: “ Go 
back secretly into your convent, and see that you do not 
betray my secret till after my death.” From that hour the 
temptation, which had been aroused in the virgin by the 
wantonness of unbridled eyes, departed from her for ever. 
Let these be enough examples of the temptation of luxury. 

Novice .—With what weapons should we fight againSf 
these seven vices of which you have discoursed so long? 

Mon —With their opposite virtues. 

Novice .—What are virtues, and why are they so called? 

Mon \.—Virtues are spiritual qualities by which we walk 
uprightly. They are called virtues, because they Stand 
opposed to the vices. Humility should Stand againSt pride, 
gentleness againSt anger, affection againSt envy, spiritual 
cheerfulness againSt melancholy, open-handedness againSt 
avarice, moderation in food and drink againSt gluttony, 
chaStity againSt luxury. Moreover, if in the Struggle 
againSt temptations the virtues conquer the vices, the vidtory 
is deserved, and eternal reward follows after the deserving. 
For this has been promised by our Lord Jesus ChriSt, who is 
the Way, in example ; the Truth, in promise ; and the 
Life, in reward. To Him, with the Father and the Holy 
GhoSt, be honour and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 


312 



BOOK V 


OF DEMONS 


CHAPTER I. 

Of demons, their numbers, their malice and their 
hostility to man. 

It seems fitting that after temptation we should treat of 
the tempters. Demons are called tempters, because they 
are either the authors or provokers of all the temptations 
that draw men to sin. If the devil tempted the firff man 
in Paradise, if he presumed to tempt Chrift in the Desert, 
what man is there in the world that he will leave untempted ? 
To every man there are assigned two angels, the good for 
protection, the evil for trial. 

Novice .—I have no doubt in my mind about the holy 
angels, because they are often spoken of in the writings of 
the prophets ; but I should like you to show me from the 
scriptures of either Testament what demons are, how many 
they are, how wicked, and how appointed to eternal flames. 

Mon \.—There is abundance of proof of these things. Of 
Lucifer, that is the devil, so called because of his beauty and 
his fall, Isaiah says: How art thou fallen from heaven, O 
Lucifer, son of the morning (Isa. xiv. 12). That he became 
the devil, and that he fell from heaven, the Saviour bears 
witness, when He says ? / beheld Satan as lightning fall from 
heaven (Luke x. 18). Job says of him: There was a day 
when the sons of God came to present themselves before the 
Lord, and Satan came also among them (Job. i. 6) ; and in 

3H 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


the Psalm David, speaking of the traitor Judas, says: Let 
Satan Hand at his right hand (Ps. cviv. 5). Also Habakkuk 
speaking of ChriSt: The devil went forth at his feet (Hab. 
iii. 5. Vulg.), and in many other places the scripture speaks 
of the devil. That he was not alone, and that he did not 
fall alone, John witnesses in the Apocalypse (xii. 78). His 
malice changed into a dragon the glorious Lucifer, of whose 
beauty and comeliness is said by Ezekiel: Thou art the seal 
of the image of God, full of wisdom and perfeft in beauty. 
Thou haft been in Eden, the garden of God ; every precious 
ftone was thy covering (Ez. xxviii. 12. Vulg.), etc. It is 
believed that the tenth part of the angels fell, and on account 
of their multitude the ApoStle calls them the powers of the 
air (Eph. ii. 2), for in falling they filled the air. Of their 
presumption the prophet speaks to ChriSt in the Psalm 
(Ps. lxxiv. 24). And the Lord in the gospel says to the Jews: 
Ye do the deeds of your father the devil; he was a liar from 
the beginning and the father of it (John viii. 41, 44). That 
he is hostile to men, Job is witness (Job xl. 23). Wherefore 
the apoStle Peter warns us : (1 Pet. v. 8, 9). What is said about 
one is to be understood of the reSt since the singular ntimber is 
often used for the plural. That they are to be damned 
eternally is deduced from the words of the Lord, in Matt, 
xxv. 41. And I think that the fifth book is the right place 
to treat of the demons, because the philosophers call five the 
apoState number, since if joined to any other odd number as 
a multipler, it always shows itself, perhaps at the beginning, 
certainly at the end. Thus the devil, withdrawing from the 
foursquare of eternal Stability, is the firSt to ally himself with 
wicked men, who are as unequal numbers, and shows him¬ 
self in his iniquity, often at the beginning, and always at 
the end of a<ft or speech. 

Novice. —I confess that the point wherein I doubted has 
been proved to me by the testimony of holy scripture ; but 
I do not confess myself satisfied, unless you make these 
things clear by living examples. 

Mon\. —That there are demons, that they are many, and 
that they are wicked, I shall be able to show you by many 
examples. 

314 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER II. 

Of the knight Henry who disbelieved in the 
exigence of demons, and saw them with his own 
eyes through a necromancer. 

There was a knight, whose name was Henry, who came 
from the caStle of FalkenStein and was butler of our fellow 
monk, Csesarius, at that time abbot of Priim. Now, as I 
have heard from Caesarius hmself, this knight did not believe 
in the exigence of demons, but looked upon anything that 
he heard or ever had heard about them as mere frivolous 
nonsense ; and therefore he sent for a certain clerk named 
Philip, who was moil famous for his skill in necromancy, 
and besought him earnestly to show him some demons. His 
reply was that demons were both horrible and dangerous 
to look upon, and that it was not good for all men to see them. 
But when the knight continued eagerly to urge his requeSt, 
he went on: “ If you will guarantee that I shall receive no 
harm from your friends or relations, if by chance you shall 
be deceived or terrified or injured by the demons, I will 
consent.” And he gave him the guarantee. 

One day at noon, because demonic power is at its greatest 
at that hour, Philip took the knight to a cross road, drew a 
circle round him with a sword, placed him within it, and 
explained to him the law of circle within circle, and then 
said: “ If you put forth any of your limbs outside this circle 
before I come back, you will die, because you will immediately 
be dragged forth by the demons and torn in pieces.” He 
warned him further, that whatever they might beg of him, 
he muSt give them nothing, and promise them nothing, and 
that he should not make the sign of the cross ; and added: 
“ The demons will tempt you and terrify you in many ways, 
but yet they will not be able to hurt you, if you follow care¬ 
fully my instructions ” ; and then he left him. 

While he sat alone within the circle, lo 1 he saw coming 
againSt him floods of waters, then he heard the grunting of 


315 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


swine, the howling of wind, and many other similar phan¬ 
tasms, with which the demons sought to terrify him. But 
as an expected javelin does not wound, he found Strength 
in himself to resift all these attacks. Laft of all, he saw in 
a neighbouring wood a figure like a horrible human shadow 
higher than the tops of the trees, hastening towards him ; 
and he felt at once that this was the devil, as indeed it was. 
When he reached the circle, he Stood Still, and asked the 
knight what he wanted of him. He was in appearance like 
a gigantic man, very huge and very black, clothed in a dark 
robe, and so hideous that the knight could not look upon 
him ; but he replied : “You have done well to come, because 
I wanted to see you.’’ “ What for? ’’ he asked, “ Because I 
have heard so much about you.” When the devil asked 
what he had heard about him, the knight replied: “ Very 
little good and much evil.” To which the devil said : “ Men 
often judge and condemn me without good cause ; I have 
harmed no one, I never attack anyone unless provoked. Your 
MaSter Philip is a good friend of mine, and I of his ; ask 
him if I have ever offended him. I do his pleasure, and he 
obliges me in all things ; it was by his summons that I have 
come to you now. 

Then the knight: “ Where were you when he called you? ” 
The demon answered : “ As far on the other side of the sea 
as the sea is from here ; and so I think it is fair that you 
should give me some reward for my trouble.” When the 
knight asked him what he wished for, he replied: “ I beg 
you to give me your cloak.” The knight said he would 
not give it him ; and then he demanded his girdle, and then 
a sheep from his flock. Finding all these requests refused, 
laft of all he asked for the cock that was in his courtyard. 
Then the knight said : “ Why, what use would it be to you ? ” 
and the demon answered ; “ He will sing to me.” “ But 
how would you take him? ” “ You need not trouble about 

that ; all I ask is that you will consent to give him to me.” 

Then the knight said: “ I will not give you anything at 
all ; ” and went on : “ Tell me, where do you get all your 
knowledge from?” The demon said: “There is no evil 
done in all the world that is hidden from me. To show you 

316 



Of Demons 


that this is true, I tell you that it was in such and such a 
town, and in such and such a house that you loft your inno¬ 
cence, and that in this place and that that you committed 
such and such sins ; ” nor was the knight able to deny that 
he had spoken truth. 

Novice .— Surely the knight can never have confessed these 
sins ; for how could the devil know them if they had been 
confessed ? 

Mony^.—If he had confessed with the intention of sinning 
again, he would in no degree have taken away the devil’s 
knowledge. 

Novice .— 1 am glad to hear what you say, because 
I remember you said the same thing in the sixth chapter of 
the third book. 

Monl — For some time the devil continued to make all 
kinds of requefts, but only met with repeated refusals ; and 
at laft he ftretched out his arm towards the knight, as if 
intending to drag him out and carry him off, and so terrified 
him, that he fell backwards and cried out. Hearing his 
voice, Philip ran up, and at his coming the phantom 
immediately disappeared. From that time forward the 
knight was deathly pale, and never regained his former healthy 
colour ; he lived very carefully, and had no doubts hence¬ 
forth concerning the exiftence of demons. He died a little 
while ago. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of a priefl, who was drawn out of the circle by the 
demons, and so injured that he died within three 
days. 

About the same time there was a foolish prieft, who sent 
for Philip, and gave him money on condition that he would 
show him the demons. Accordingly, he placed him in a 


317 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


circle in the fashion already described, and gave him the 
usual instructions, but the prieSt was frightened and drawn 
out by the devil, and so injured before Philip could return, 
that he died on the third day. His house was confiscated 
by Walter, Count of Luxemberg. I myself have seen this 
Philip who was killed a few years ago by the agency, it is 
believed, of his maSter and friend, the devil. 


CHAPTER IV. 

Also of a cler\ in Toledo, who was drawn out by 
the wiles of the demons and carried to hell. 

Our fellow monk, Gotteschalk, of VolmarStein, of blessed 
memory told me a Story which I muSt not omit. One day 
he asked the aforesaid Philip to tell him some of the more 
remarkable things that he had seen in the practice of his art, 
and the other replied as follows: “ I will tell you a very 
wonderful thing which actually happened at Toledo during 
my own lifetime. 

There were in that city many scholars from different 
countries Studying the art of necromancy, and among them 
some young men from Swabia and Bavaria, who, hearing 
from their maSter certain Stupendous and incredible State¬ 
ments, and determined to search out the truth, said to him: 
“ MaSter, we beg you to give us ocular demonstration of 
what you have been telling us, so that we may gain some 
result of our Studies.” 

He tried to put them off, but failed, owing to the per¬ 
sistence of their national character ; and so, at the proper 
hour, he took them into a field, drew a circle round them, 
and warned them, under the penalty of death, to remain 
within the circle, and not to give anything to any who might 
ask, or take anything from any who might offer. Then he 
withdrew a little way from them, and called the demons by 

318 



Of Demons 


his incantations. Immediately they showed themselves under 
the appearance of well-armed soldiers, pradfising their military 
games around the youths. At one time they would pretend 
to fall, at another they would ffretch out their lances and 
swords againft them, trying in every way to induce them to 
leave the circle. When they found that this was of no avail, 
they changed themselves into very beautiful girls, and danced 
about them, inviting the young men with every kind of 
alluring movement. One of them, more beautiful than the 
reft, chose out one of the scholars, and as often as she danced 
up to him, held out a gold ring, inflaming him to love both by 
inward suggeftion, and by the outward motion of the body. 
When she had done this over and over again, the youth was 
at laft overcome, and put his finger outside the circle to 
receive the ring, and immediately she drew him out by that 
finger, and disappeared with him. 

As soon as the quarry was caught, the whole assembly 
of friends became a whirling miff. The scholars raised an 
outcry, the maffer ran up, and they all complained to him 
of the loss of their companion. He answered: “ It is not 
my fault, you urged me to this ; I told you what would 
happen ; you will never see him again.” They at once 
rejoined : “ Unless you get him back for us, we will kill you.” 
Then afraid for his life, for he knew what madmen Bavarians 
are, he answered: “I will try if there may be any hope for 
him.” Then he summoned the chief of the band of demons, 
reminded him of all his faithful service, and told him that 
this would be a great blow to his teaching and that he himself 
would be killed by his pupils, if the youth were not reflored. 
The devil was moved with compassion, and replied: “ To¬ 
morrow I will hold a council in such a place for your sake ; 
you muff be present, and if you can in any way get him back 
by the vote of the meeting, I shall be pleased.” 

Why should I say more ? The council of the fiends met at 
the command of the chief, and the maffer made his complaint 
of the violence done to his disciple. The adversary replied : 
“ Sir, I have done him neither wrong nor violence, he was 
disobedient to his maffer, he did not keep the law of the 
circle.” While they thus disputed, the leader spoke to a 

319 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

certain demon, his coadjutor, as to the decision they were to 
give: “ Oliver, you were always a good counsellor, you are 
never a respefter of persons in defiance of justice ; solve the 
question of this dispute.” The other replied: “ I decide 
that the youth should .be restored to his maSter,” and turning 
at once to the adversary he said : “ You muSt give him back, 
because you were too importunate.” 

The others gave assent to this decision, and at the command 
of the judge, the scholar was at once brought back from hell 
and restored to his maSter, the council was broken up, and 
the maSter returned to his disciples, rejoicing in the booty 
he had recovered ; but the face of him thus brought back 
was so haggard, and so ghaStly pale with a fixed and death¬ 
like pallor, that he seemed only now to have returned from 
the tomb. He told his companions what he had seen in hell, 
and showed them by example rather than by word how 
hateful to God and how accursed was all such teaching ; and 
leaving Toledo, he became a monk in a monastery of our 
Order. 

Novice .—I call to mind now those other two, to wit, the 
youth who took the vows at Toledo on the warning of his 
dead comrade, and the clerk who was converted by seeing 
the punishment of the Landgrave, as you told me in the 
thirty-third and thirty-fourth chapters of the firSt book. 

Mon\. —Conrad, one of our elder monks, told me that 
before his conversion a certain necromancer made a display to 
him one night, and he saw demons under different forms 
in the light of the full moon. Wherefore there can be no 
doubt of their existence, since they can be seen, heard and 
touched by men. 

Novice .—Athough it has been proved to me that there are 
demons, nevertheless I should be better pleased to hear the 
testimony of the religious about them rather than that only 
of worldly men. 

Mon \.—That demons exiSt, and that they are many, 1 
will show you, not by doubtful examples of worldly persons, 
but by moSt faithful evidence of the religious, about which 
you can have no doubt. 


320 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER V. 

Of Herman, the abbot of Marrienfiatt, who saw 
demons under various forms. 

Dom Herman, now abbot of Marienftatt, was a man 
whose spirituality and authority are well known to you. He 
was a man of ancient race and noble birth, and before his 
conversion had been canon of Bonn Cathedral ; then he 
became a monk in Hemmenrode, and when, not long after¬ 
wards, our convent was sent out from that monastery, he 
was appointed the firft abbot of the new community. After 
a few years we loft him, as he was reftored to Hemmenrode, 
being elected as abbot there. At that time there was a lay- 
brother, by name Henry, mafter of the grange, called Hart, 
a man good and upright, of mature age and virgin in body. 
Among other gifts that he had received from the Lord was 
this, that he used often to see demons, under different forms, 
passing to and fro in the choir at the night offices. 

Once, in confession, he told this to Herman, who, 
being kindled by his example into a desire to see demons 
himself, prayed very earneftly to God that He would 
deign to grant him this favour; and immediately his 
prayer was heard. For when, on the next S. Martin's 
Day, he was ftanding in the choir at matins, he saw 
a demon in the form of a thick-set peasant, come in 
near the lower part of the presbytery. This demon 
had a broad breaft, pointed shoulders and a short neck ; his 
hair was fashionably dressed in front, the reft hanging down 
like drooping ears of corn ; and he went to a certain novice 
and ftood in front of him. When Dom Herman, who was 
not yet abbot, had gazed upon him for a time, and, after 
turning his eyes away for a little, again wished to see him, 
he had already disappeared. At another time the demon, 
transforming himself into a calf’s tail, threw himself upon a 
bench againft which the same novice was leaning, and then 
very smoothy and gradually dragged himself towards him ; 
and immediately this tail touched his shoulders, the novice 


3 21 


21 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

at once became faulty in his singing and when he touched the 
ground with his fingers in acknowledgement of his fault in 
accordance with the Rule, the demon as if suddenly driven 
by a whirlwind, withdrew from him an arm’s length, and so 
disappeared. For not even that spirit of pride, who with 
his tail draws the third part of the Bars of heaven (Apoc. xii. 4), 
can resift a single sign of humility. That novice was Father 
Alexander, who is now prior in Hemmenrode. It is likely 
that at that time, he was allowing some light thoughts, so 
that the frivolous emotions they engendered were a temptation 
and a hindrance to his devotions. 

Novice. —It pleases me to hear this. 

Mon\. —Further, on the vigil of S. Kunibert (he was then 
a simple monk) he saw from his place in the abbot’s choir, two 
demons enter near the presbytery, and go gradually towards 
the abbot’s ftall between the choirs of the monks and novices. 
When they came opposite to the angle where the walls meet, 
there sprang forth a third demon, who joined the other two, 
and went out with them. They passed so close to him that 
he could have touched them with his hand. Looking at them 
more closely, he noticed that they did not touch the ground 
with their feet, being powers of the air. One of the firft two 
had the face of a woman, and was wearing a black veil, and 
was covered with a black cloak. And as he told me, that 
monk, who had been harbouring the third demon, was a 
notorious grumbler and thrall of accidie, one who slept will¬ 
ingly in church, and chanted reluctantly, being ever more ready 
to drink than to sing ; one to whom the shorteft services 
seemed always too long. 

At another time, when he was now prior, on the vigil, I 
think, of S. Columbanus, the abbot’s choir was beginning the 
firft psalm for matins: Lord how are they increased that 
trouble me (Ps. iii.), the demons so thronged the choir that by 
their number and going to and fro, the brethren quickly broke 
down in the psalm, and when the other side of the choir tried 
to put them right, the demons flying across and mingling with 
them so difturbed them that they no longer knew what they 
were singing, and soon each side was shouting againft the 
other. The lord abbot Euftace and prior Herman, seeing this, 


322 



Of Demons 


came down from their Stalls and tried to remedy the confusion, 
but were unable to restore the singing or to change the discord 
into harmony. At length, that short and well known psalm 
was somehow finished, after a great deal of difficulty and con¬ 
fusion, and the devil, the origin of the trouble, departed with 
his satellites, and peace once more descended upon the singers. 
It was at this time that the prior saw the devil flying in the 
form of a dragon of the length of a spear, and passing close to 
a lighted lamp, so that his departure was plain to him as he 
watched. The other demons had shadowy bodies somewhat 
larger than those of infants and their faces were the colour of 
iron that has firft been drawn from the furnace. 

Novice .—Since there were so many demons collected 
together in one place to interrupt one congregation, I cannot 
doubt that in the whole world their numbers muff be count¬ 
less. 

Moni j.—The gospel bears witness that a legion entered 
into one man. Wherefore since they are so numerous and so 
evil, and alas ! as has been said, so exceeding eager to put 
{tumbling blocks in the way of our salvation, my advice is that 
when we {land up to sing, we should be very careful and very 
earnest, very fervent and very humble, left the vice of com¬ 
placent shouting should extinguish the virtue of holy fervour. 
For juft as the evil spirits are difturbed by the devotion of our 
hearts, so do they rejoice in the self-satisfied uplifting of our 
voices. 

One night when the precentor for the week began the anti¬ 
phon of the 94th psalm, and the monk next him took it up on 
a rather low note, Herwic, who was then sub-prior, together 
with the other elder men joined in on the same note. There 
was {landing in the lower part of the choir a certain not very 
wise young monk, who, being annoyed that the psalm was 
begun on so low a note, raised it by nearly five tones. The sub¬ 
prior resifted, but the other refused to give way, and showing 
much pertinacity, gained the upper hand. In the next verse 
some on the other side aided him, but the others flopped sing¬ 
ing because of the scandal and the dreadful discord. At this 
moment prior Herman saw a demon, like a white-hot iron, 
leave the monk who had thus gained his end, and pass over to 

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those on the opposite side who had taken his part. From 
which we may gather that humble chanting with real devotion 
is more pleasing to God than voices raised in arrogance to 
heaven. 

Another night when he had summoned the brethren to 
vigil, and was Standing in his place looking at the eaSt window 
and wondering at the brightness of the light, there passed 
before his vision a demon like an Ethiopian, of huge size, and 
as black as if he had that moment been drawn out of hell fire. 
This demon came through the upper choir, passed by him 
and went out. 

Again at another time when he had gone a little way from 
his Stall to encourage the brethren, he saw a demon of horrible 
aspect pass with a rush between the Stalls of abbot and prior; 
he gave a baleful glance at the prior’s choir and seeing that 
no way lay open for him because the prior himself was block¬ 
ing it, betook himself hurriedly into the Stalls of the novices 
and joined himself to a certain senior monk who was sitting 
there. This monk was not unlike in chara< 5 ter to that other 
who had harboured the demon, being too fond of drink, lazy, 
and a great grumbler. See how such things ought to be a 
warning to monks afflifted with accidie. 

Novice .—Both these Stories, as well as those which I 
remember you told about accidie in the former book ought 
to be a terror to any who go to sleep in church or sing the 
psalms carelessly. 

Mon \.—Often did he see demons in very minute forms 
flitting about the church, and often he saw them glittering in 
various places with a sinister light. Conscious that the sight 
of them was injurious to the eyes, and well aware of their 
malice, one day, after saying the mass of the Holy Spirit, he 
besought God that he might see them no more. Then 
suddenly the universal enemy showed himself in the form of 
a very bright eye, about the size of a man’s fiSt, in which some 
living presence seemed to dwell, as though he said : “ Look 
well at me now, for you will never see me again.” Yet he 
did see him afterwards, but neither so clearly nor so frequently 
as before. 

He was appointed abbot in Marienftatt at the time when the 
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Of Demons 


noble lady, Alice, Countess of Froizbreth was being buried 
there as foundress of the monastery, and while her body was 
Still lying in the coffin, he saw a demon circling round the 
bier, and searching every corner with his eyes as if he had loSt 
something belonging to him. 

Less than a year ago, when, as our prior, he was going 
into the church at the canonical hour, after translating some 
secular business outside, he saw a demon marching before 
him as if he were his guide. The form of the body he had 
assumed was miSty and unsubstantial, like a cloud. Then a 
few days later, one night after matins, he saw him Stand before 
the prior under a similar appearance. 

Novice .—Why is it that you were so careful to conceal the 
name of this venerable abbot when you were writing your 
moral homilies on the Infancy of the Saviour, and described 
there nearly all these visions? 

Mon \.~—Of his great love he revealed to me the secret 
things of his life, but urged upon me at the time that I should 
not disclose his name; a restriction that he afterwards with¬ 
drew on my earnest persuasion, for well I knew that the value 
of his authority would give great weight to all I wrote. I now 
remind you of the virtues of that venerable man, whose 
sanCtity was so well known, and whose authority so unques¬ 
tioned that no one can fairly caSt doubt on any of his State¬ 
ments; his visions will be a warning both for present and 
future generations. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Of the monk. Chriflian and the visions he saw . 

A certain venerable prieSt, Christian both in name and in 
reality, came to take the vows at Hemmenrode. The demons 
were exceedingly importunate with him, and showed them¬ 
selves to him often, both before and after his conversion. 
Another secular prieSt named Charles also became a novice 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


in the same monastery at this time, and our prior Ysenbrand 
was a companion of his in his probation. This Charles, 
following the counsel of the demon, to whom he willingly 
listened, consented to the gratifications of gluttony and the 
flesh, and was continually pretending sickness, feigning to 
limp, and lying long in bed. When he was put in the 
infirmary, so much did he pamper his body and negledt his 
soul, limping always when compelled to move about, and 
looking in at the kitchen, and trying to discover what food 
was being prepared for the infirmary, that the aforesaid 
Christian often saw a demon following him, mimicking his 
limp and his way of looking in at the kitchen, and everything 
he did. At laSt drawing back before his year of probation 
was ended, he returned to the fleshpots of Egypt, and being of 
a fleshly mind, made flesh his goal. 

Once when the brethren were prepared for the day’s work 
and were Standing round the hall after chapter, waiting for 
the sound of the gong, some of them showed themselves half¬ 
hearted by the lazy way in which they obeyed the signal, and 
the blessed Christian saw several cats, marked with disfiguring 
patches of mange, or rather demons under the appearance of 
cats, fawning upon these monks with the waving of their 
tails, and caressing them in sign of familiarity by rubbing 
themselves againSt them. But on those who kept their vigour 
and goodwill they did not dare even to look. 

One day when he had proStrated himself in prayer before 
one of the altars, a demon, changing himself into an enormous 
toad, the size of a hen, sat down before his face. He was so 
terrified by this sight that he got up and fled from the place, 
for at that time he did not so well understand the wiles of the 
devil. 

Novice .—These visions seem to me to be moSt useful warn¬ 
ings againSt three vices; the firSt againSt gluttony; the second 
againSt vanity, and the third againSt weariness in prayer. 

Mon \.—Although we may not see him, the devil often 
takes from us all the sweetness of prayer by the horrors of such 
phantasms. I heard all these visions from the abbot Herman 
and the monk Walter of Birbech, who were his close friends. 
You shall hear in the ninth book more of his a<As and visions. 

326 



Of [Demons 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of demons who were seen in Mainz upon an over¬ 
dressed woman. 

The following story was told me by a worthy citizen, who 
assured me that it atfluaily happened in his own time at Mainz, 
if my memory serves me. A priest was going round his 
church and sprinkling the people with holy water, and when 
he came to the door of the church, he met there, Striding 
haughtily in, a matron dressed out with all kinds of adorn¬ 
ments, as gay as a peacock; and on her skirts, which she was 
dragging far behind her, he saw a number of demons sitting. 
They were as small as dormice, and as black as Ethiopians, 
grinning and clapping their hands and leaping hither and 
thither like fish inclosed in a net; for in truth feminine extrava¬ 
gance is a net of the devil. Now when he saw this chariot 
of demons he bade the woman wait outside, called the con¬ 
gregation to come to the door and adjured the devils not to 
move. She Stood there in terror, while he prayed that the 
people might have grace to see the vision, and because he 
was a good and upright man his prayer was granted. When 
the woman realised that the extravagance of her dress had 
thus made her an objetft of mockery to demons, she went home 
and changed her dress; and thus that vision became an 
occasion of humility both to her and all the other women. 

Novice .—If the demons, who incite us miserable men to 
sin, are so numerous, I think too that the number of those 
who drag the compliant to punishment will also be great. 

Mon \.—I will inftrudf you concerning this rather by 
examples than by teaching. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Of a pncU of Dit\irch, who on his deathbed saw a 
vafl number of demons. 

At a convent of nuns of Ditkirch, which is situated in the 
township of Bonn, there died lately a prieff named Adolphus, 
a man both worldly and wanton, the vicar of this convent. 
A prieft, who had been a canon of Bonn, told me that one 
day this Adolphus was playing dice with a relation of his, 
when one of his parishioners came to him in great distress, 
and besought him, humbly and with tears, to be good enough 
to come and hear the confession of his mother, and give her 
the communion. When the prieft replied : “ I will not come 
till I have finished my game,” and the other pressed him, say¬ 
ing that the sick woman could not wait, the prieft grew angry 
and said to the partner of his game : “ Kinsman, I make my 
complaint to you of this gentleman who will not leave me in 
peace.” Seeing that he could gain nothing, the other went 
away, deeply grieving, and the sick woman died, without 
confession and without viaticum. Three days later, he, who 
had been playing with the prieft, met the son of the dead 
woman, and remembering the prieft’s complaint, killed him 
without other cause. 

After these and very many other sins, the prieft himself 
fell into mortal sickness; and as he lay on his bed in despair, 
a kinswoman of his who was sitting beside him, being unable 
to see any sign of contrition in him, said sadly: “ Sir, you are 
very weak, prepare yourself to meet God; call upon Him that 
He may forgive you your sins, and grant you time for fruitful 
repentance.” But he answered, despairing: “ Do you see 
that great barn opposite to us? There are under its roof as 
many blades of ftraw as there are demons now gathered 
round me.” And when he had said this, he fell into his 
agony and died, seeing at his death the presence of those by 
whose advice he had lived when in health. I could tell you 
much more about the number of demons, but I am reserving 
it till the twelfth book. 


328 



Of Demons 


Novice .—Since the wicked have many demons to incite 
them to their evil way of life, and many to accuse them in 
death, I am wondering if each torturer will have as many to 
assift him in their punishment. 

Mon^.—In the thirty-second chapter of the firs! book, it 
was said of the abbot of Morimund that demons carried his 
soul to the place of punishment and there tortured him. 
Again in the sixth chapter of the second book, the murderer 
Hildebrand, when he appeared to Bertolphus, said that many 
thousands of demons were waiting outside for his soul. 

Novice .—If this be so, assuredly there muff be many more 
demons than wicked men. 

Mon \.—With regard to the present time, we have no 
means of answering this que&ion, but we are sure that in the 
end of the world, when the number of the reprobate shall 
be complete, there will be far more wicked men than demons. 

Novice .—How is this proved? 

Mon^.—The tenth part of the angels fell and became 
demons; now the blessed Gregory tells us that as many eledf 
will rise to heaven as there are angels remaining there. In 
accordance with this, the number of the eledf will be nine 
times as great as the number of demons. But who can 
doubt that there are incomparably more wicked men than 
good? Nor may the wicked take any comfort from the 
fadf that they will be far more numerous than the demons; 
for so great is the natural power of the latter, so concentrated 
their malice, so intense their love of inflidting pain, that one 
will be enough to torture many thousands of men. Let this 
be enough as to the vaff number of evil spirits. But how 
surpassingly wicked they are, and how pitiless, I will show 
you by several examples. 


329 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter IX. 

Of a demon who said that he would rather go down 
to hell with one soul deceived by himself than be 
reflored to heaven. 

While a demon was cruelly torturing a man whom he had 
obsessed, and by chattering through his mouth was giving 
various answers to various enquiries, one of the bystanders 
asked: “ Tell us, devil, what price in toil would you be 
willing to pay that you might return to the glory in which 
you once lived?” The demon answered: “If I had the 
power of decision, I would rather go down to hell with one 
soul whom I had myself deceived, than go back to heaven.” 
All, who heard it, wondered at his answer, but he went on: 
“ Why do you wonder at this? so great is my malice, and so 
intent upon it am I, that I can never desire anything that is 
good.” But this does not agree with what was said by 
another demon. 


CHAPTER X. 

Of another demon who said the contrary. 

In the church of the blessed Peter at Cologne, while a 
woman was being miserably tormented by a demon that 
possessed her, it happened that another woman, also possessed, 
came into her presence. Immediately they began to attack 
each other, vieing in outcries and insults, so as to astonish us 
all. Demon said to demon: “ Miserable that we are, why 
by consenting to Lucifer did we fall for ever from eternal 
glory?” The other asked: “Why then did you do it?” 
And when the firSt Still uttered words that almoSt sounded 
like repentance, the other said: “Be silent, this repentance 
comes far too late; never can you go back.” Do you see how 


330 



Of Demons 


great is their obftinacy ? The same evil spirit, when asked, 
like the one in the la$l ftory, about the return to glory, 
answered very differently, as I heard myself: “ If,” he said, 
“ there were a column of burning iron set up from earth to 
heaven, and if it were furnished with the sharpest razors and 
blades of Steel, and if I were given a body capable of suffering, 
mo 9 gladly would I drag myself up it from now till the Day 
of Judgment, now climbing up a little and now slipping down 
again, if only I might at the laSt win home to the glory in 
which once I dwelt.” 

Novice .—How do you explain these different sentiments ? 

Mon \.—The firSt demon knew well that the proposal 
suggested to him was altogether impossible, and simply made 
a show of his own malice; the other declared, in what words 
he could, his knowledge of the greatness of his loss. 

Novice .—Do demons fear the punishment prepared for 
them ? 

Monk -—They believe and tremble. Hence it is that all 
forms of exorcism, which are carried out to weaken their 
malice, conclude with the mention of fire and the LaSt 
Judgment. How eager they are to injure men I will show 
you by examples. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of a demon who confessed that he had taken 
possession of a woman because she had been handed 
over to him by her husband. 

Last year our abbot was celebrating mass at S. Saviour’s 
Mount, near Aix, and at the end of the service a woman 
possessed of a devil was brought to him. He read over her 
the gospel for Ascension Day, and at the words: they shall 
lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark xvi. 17), 
he placed his hand upon her head; whereupon the demon 


331 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


uttered so lamentable a cry, that we were all terrified. When 
adjured to go out of her, he answered : “ It is not yet the will 
of the Mo£t High.” When asked how he had entered her, 
he did not reply himself, nor suffer the woman to answer. 
Later she confessed that her husband had said to her in anger : 
“ Go to the devil,” and at that moment she had felt him enter 
through one of her ears. This woman was a native of the 
province of Aix, and well known in the diiLri< 5 E. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Also of a boy whom the devil seized upon when 
his father said to him, “ Go to the devil.” 

A certain abbot once told me of a man, who in a fit of 
anger told his son to go to the devil; and immediately the 
devil seized the lad and carried him off, so that he was no 
more seen. 

Novice. —Why is a son punished for the sins of the father, 
when the Scripture says: The son shall not bear the iniquity 
of the father (Ez. xviii. 20). 

Mon\. —I say exadly what the woman in the preceding 
ftory said. 1 It may have been that God permitted it to 
happen for the sake of example, that when men hear of the 
torture of the husband in his wife’s obsession, and the grief 
of the father in the loss of his son, they may retrain their 
anger and keep their tongues from foolish speech. 

Novice. —What you say is a help to me. 

Mon\. —Let those who doubt the existence of demons wait 
till they see demoniacs, for in them the signs of his presence 
are clearly shown, in the way that the devil speaks through 
their mouths and rages mofl cruelly in their bodies. 

Novice. —But this may not always be genuine, sometimes 
it is mere pretence. 

1 Apparently there is Borne lacuna in C. XI. 

332 



Of Demons 


Mon\. —Demoniacs are often spoken of in the gospels, and 
in the Ails of the Apoffles, as well as in the Lives or Sufferings 
of the Saints. I do not deny indeed that some have pretended 
to be possessed for the sake of worldly gain, but in many cases 
there is no pretence, as will be shown by the following 
example. 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Of a possessed woman who said that the devil was 
bound by three words of the canon. 

Gerard, the provoff of Ober-Pleis told me that a possessed 
woman, very well known to many, came to Siegburg to be 
cured. She was taken into the church of S. Michael the 
Archangel, and was questioned on various subjects, and when 
the binding of Lucifer in hell was mentioned, the devil replied 
by her mouth: “ O fools, do you imagine that my matter is 
bound in hell with any chains of iron? Very different is the 
reality. Three words of the mass have been laid in silence 
upon him, and with these he is bound.” Some of the brethren 
asked : “ What are these three words?” but she was unwilling, 
or rather afraid, to speak them, only saying: “ Bring me the 
book, and I will show them to you.” The missal was brought 
and handed to her closed; she opened it and found the canon 
without any difficulty and putting her finger upon the place : 
Through Him, and with Him and in Him, in which a mem¬ 
orial is made of the Supreme Trinity, she said : “ Behold these 
are the three words with which my maffer is bound.” 
Several of the monks present heard this, and knowing that the 
woman could not read, they were much edified, for they 
understood the force of the words. For by the Father, and 
with the Son and in the Holy Spirit, whose works are indi¬ 
visible, is that flrong man bound, and his goods are spoiled 
(Mark iii. 7). 


333 



The Dialogue on Miracles 
CHAPTER XIV. 

Of a possessed woman, who in the Isle of S. 

Nicholas, acknowledged the relics. 

This year on the feaft of All Saints, I was with my prior 
in the Isle of S. Nicholas, commonly called Stupa, which is 
a convent of nuns, and there we saw a girl, who, before our 
coming, had been possessed, but at that time had been set free 
by the virtue of their relics and by the prayers of the sifters. 
About her we were told by the Superior of the convent, a 
spiritually-minded woman, that one day, when she was being 
cruelly torn by the unclean spirit, a certain worthy clerk, 
wishing to make trial of her, took from its golden table, with¬ 
out her knowledge, the little bag containing some thorns 
from the Lord’s crown, and holding it in his closed hand 
over the head of the Demoniac, drew from her piercing out¬ 
cries. The byftanders, not knowing the cause of her fury 
asked her why she was thus crying out, and what was the 
matter with her ; and she answered: “That which once 
refted upon the head of the Moft High, even that is now 
weighing down my head and piercing it with ftabs ; and do 
you ask me why I cry out? ” Those present were greatly 
edified, especially the sifters, because they had an unmiftak- 
able proof of two things, namely that the thorns were genuine, 
and that the woman was undoubtedly possessed by the devil. 

Moreover if these two examples are not enough for you, 
call to mind those three demons in the firft, second and third 
chapters of the third book. 


CHAPTER XV. 

How demons are in men. 

Novice. —Although I am quite satisfied about these things, 
there is ftill one point that troubles me. Some say that 
demons are not within men, but outside them, as a caftle is 


334 



Or Demons 


said to be besieged not from within, but from without. 
Others think the contrary, relying on those words of the 
Saviour: Come out of the man, thou unclean spirit 
(Mark v. 8). 

Mon!{. —A thing cannot properly be said to come out, 
unless it was within ; yet both say truth in a way, namely 
that it is possible to be within a man, and yet not within 
him. It is not possible for the devil to be within the human 
soul, according to what is laid down by Gennadius in his 
book Dogmas of the Church, where he says: “ We do not 
believe that by any energy or operation a demon can pass 
in subfiance into the soul, bur that it can be united to it by 
contafi and pressure. To pass into the soul is only possible 
for the Creator, because His subfiance is incorporeal by 
nature, and so is adapted to enter His own creation. Nothing 
akin to subffance can fill the soul of man except the Trinity 
who created him.” 

Novice.— How then is the devil said to enter, to tempt or 
to inspire the heart of man ? 

Mon\. —He enters, fills or inspires only so far as he draws 
the soul to a desire for evil by deceiving it. And here is 
the difference between the approach of the Holy Spirit and 
that of a wicked spirit, that the Holy Spirit is properly said 
to pass into the soul, and the other to inspire it. The Holy 
Spirit dwelling within the sinful soul in His essence, power 
and wisdom, passes into it by grace as if from near at hand. 
But the evil spirit, being outside it in subftance as we have 
shown, shoots in its wickedness like an arrow, by suggefiing 
evil and fashioning the mind to vice. Whence you have the 
Sending evil angels among them (Ps. lxxviii. 49). And from 
this it ensues, that after the coming of the Holy Spirit, a 
man is able to love good more fervently than formerly he 
loved evil, which was implanted as it were from a difiance. 
When the devil is said to be within a man, this muft not be 
underflood of the soul, but of the body, because he is able 
to pass into its empty cavities such as the bowels. 

Novice. —I am satisfied now on this point, but I should 
like to ask if there be ftill any other ways in which demons 
are wont to injure men. 


335 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —Demons have a thousand arts of injury, four of 
which I will lay before you. Some they injure by false 
promises, others by undermining their faith, some by affiifting 
them in the body, and others, and this is worft of all, by 
slaying them with sin. But none of these things can happen 
except by the juft judgment of God, and I will subjoin 
examples of each. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

Of a lay-brother of KloBer-Camp, who was deceived 
by the promise of the bishopric of HalberSladt, and 
was hanged. 

This ftory I heard from a prieft of our Order, a reliable 
witness, who knew the whole affair. In Klofter-Camp, a 
house of the Ciftercian Order, which lies in the diocese of 
Cologne, there was a certain lay-brother who had learnt from 
the monks, with whom he associated, juft as much letters 
as enabled him to read. This good fortune was a great 
delight to him, but it became the means of his undoing ; for 
he secretly caused books to be written for him, that he might 
possess them, and began to take pleasure in the vice of private 
ownership. Then when these ftudies were forbidden him, 
because he was too much absorbed in them, his love of learn¬ 
ing brought him to apoftasy ; but he made little progress, 
because he was already too old. He returned to the 
monaftery in repentance, but repeated this aft of apoftasy a 
second, and even a third time ; going to secular schools, 
and then coming back again, he thus provided copious 
material for the devil to work upon in deceiving him. 

One day he appeared visibly to the lay-brother in the form 
of an angel and said : “ Go on learning with all your might, 
because God has decreed, and it shall surely come to pass, that 
you shall be bishop of Halberftadt.” The poor fool did not 

33 6 



Of Demons 


discern the wiles of the devil, but hoped that the ancient 
miracles were to be revived in him. What followed? A 
little later, the deceiver came to him, and with a smiling face 
said very diffinftly: “ To-day the bishop of HalberSladt has 
died ; haften at once to the city whose bishop God has 
deSfined you to be, for His counsel may not be changed.” 
Forthwith the wretched man left the monastery stealthily, 
and was entertained that night in the house of a worthy 
prieSt near the town of Xanten. But that he might come 
to his see with becoming dignity, he rose up before dawn, 
saddled a fine horse belonging to his host, borrowed his 
cloak, mounted and rode off. In the morning the servants 
of the house, discovering their loss, pursued after the apoftate 
and arrefted him ; he was taken before the tribunal and 
charged with the theft, and being found guilty, ascended, 
not the throne as a bishop, but the gallows as a convicted 
thief. You see to what kind of end the devil’s promises 
lead ! Another lay-brother was deceived by him, not indeed 
so grossly, but none the less dangerously. 


CHAPTER XVII. 

Also of a lay-brother who was deceived by the call 
of a cuckoo, and died in apoHasy. 

Theobald of blessed memory, the abbot of Eberbach, toid 
us last year how a certain lay-brother, when on a journey, 
heard the frequent call of the bird, which gets its name of 
cuckoo from its note, and counted the number of times it 
was repeated ; finding this to be twenty-two, he took it for 
an omen, and reckoned that his life would be prolonged for 
as many more years. “ Ho, ho ! ” he cried, “ now for certain 
I have twenty-two years more to live ; why should I mortify 
myself in the Order all that time ? I will go back to the world, 
give myself up to it, and enjoy all its pleasures for twenty 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


years, and then the laSl two that remain I will spend in 
penitence.” There is no doubt that the devil, who by open 
speech had induced the lay-brother of the laft Story to believe 
that he would become a bishop, now by secret suggestion 
persuaded this brother to believe in such an augury. But 
the Lord, to whom all auguries are hateful, disposed quite 
differently to his calculations ; for He allowed him to live 
in the world for those two poor years that he had appointed 
for penitence, and by a juSt judgment took from him the 
twenty that he had assigned to pleasure. See of what value 
are the devil’s promises ! The following example will show 
you how, through his servants, he overthrows the faith of 
some, or rather of very many. 


CHAPTER XVIII. 

Of two heretics, who, after deceiving many people 
by pretended miracles at Besan^on, were burnt at 
the Ba\e. 

Two men, simple in dress, but not in heart, ravening 
wolves rather than sheep, came to Besan^on, pretending the 
deepest piety. They were pale and waSted, they walked 
barefoot, they faSted every day ; never were they absent from 
solemn matins in the cathedral, nor would they accept from 
anyone more than the moSt meagre food. When by such 
hypocrisy they had gained the goodwill of all the people, 
then and not till then, they began to pour forth their hidden 
poison, and to preach new and unheard of heresies to the 
unlettered folk. 

That the people might put faith in their teaching, they 
bade them sprinkle flour over the pavement, and walked 
over it without leaving any trace of a footStep ; in like 
manner they walked upon water without sinking, and laSlly, 
caused wooden huts to be set on fire over their heads, and 

338 



Of Demons 


when these had been reduced to ashes, they came forth 
uninjured. Then they said to the crowds: “ If you do not 
believe us for our words, at leaft believe us for our miracles.” 

Both the bishop and the vicar heard of these things and 
were sorely troubled ; but when they tried to resift the men, 
and affirmed that they were heretics, deceivers, and servants 
of the devil, the people were so angered againft them, that 
it was with difficulty that they escaped from being ftoned 
to death. 

This bishop was a good and learned man, and a native 
of our province ; he was well known to our elder monk 
Conrad who told me this ftory, and who was himself in the 
city at the time. When the bishop saw that he could effeft 
nothing by words, and that the people committed to his charge 
were having their faith destroyed by these ministers of the 
devil, he sent for a clerk whom he knew to be an expert in 
necromancy, and said to him: “ Thus and thus are these 
men doing in my city ; I beg you to use your art to find out 
from the devil, who they are, and from whence they come, 
and by what power these great and Stupendous miracles 
are being wrought ; for it is not possible it can be by the 
power of God, since their doftrine is plainly opposed by 
him." The clerk said : “ Sir, I have renounced all those 
arts for a long time ” ; but the bishop replied : “ You see well 
the Straits I am in. I muSt either agree with their teaching 
or be Stoned by the people. I lay it upon you as a satis¬ 
faction for your sins, that you consent to do this for me.” 
In obedience to his bishop, the clerk called up the devil, and 
when asked the reason of this summons, said: “ I am very 
sorry that I ever forsook you, and as I intend for the future 
to be more your servant than ever, I beg you to tell me who 
these men are, what is their teaching, and by what power 
they work so great wonders? ” The devil replied: “ They 
are my servants and are sent by me ; and they preach what 
I have put in their mouths.” Then the clerk asked : “ How 
is it that they cannot be injured? neither drowned in water, 
nor burnt with fire?” The devil answered “The inden¬ 
tures under which they have become my vassals, have been 
sewn under their armpits juft under the skin ; and it is by 


339 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


this charm that they perform their miracles, and are immune 
from all bodily harm.” Then the clerk said : “ What would 
happen if these were taken from them? ” and the devil 
replied : “ In that case they would become weak like other 
men.” When the clerk heard this, he thanked the devil 
and asked him to leave him for that time, and to come back 
when he next summoned him. Then he returned to the 
bishop, and recounted all this to him in order ; and he, 
greatly rejoicing, convened all the inhabitants of the town 
into a place suitable for the purpose, and said : “ I am your 
paStor, you are my sheep. If these men confirm their 
doctrines by miracles, as you say they do, I am willing to 
follow them with you ; but if not, it is right that they should 
be punished, and that you should return in penitence with 
me to the faith of your fathers.” Then all the people cried 
out: “ We have seen many miracles wrought by them 
already ” ; but the bishop answered: “ I have not seen any 
yet.” Why make a long Story? The plan pleased the 
people, the heretics were summoned into the bishop’s presence, 
and a great fire was kindled in the midSt of the town. 

Before they entered it, however, they were brought secretly 
to the bishop, who said to them : “ I wish to assure myself 
that you have no charms upon you.” When they heard this, 
immediately they Stripped off their clothes, and said very 
confidently : “ Search diligently both on our bodies and in 
our clothes.” Whereupon the soldiers, as they had been 
inStrucfted beforehand by the bishop, lifted up their arms, 
and discovering certain scars hidden beneath them, cut them 
open with their knives, and drew out from thence the inden¬ 
tures which had been sewn up in them. When these had 
been handed to the bishop, he went out to the people, taking 
the heretics with him, and when silence was secured, cried 
out in a loud voice: “ Now let your prophets enter the fire, 
and if it does not injure them, I will believe them.” The 
wretched men were panic-Stricken, and protested that they 
could not enter now ; then the bishop told the whole Story, 
and disclosed their malice, and showed the indentures. 

At this, fury came upon all, and they hurled the servants 
of the devil into the fire prepared for them, that they might 

34° 



Of Demons 


go to be tormented with the devil in fire eternal. Thus 
by the grace of God, and by the energy of the bishop, the 
heresy was extinguished in its infancy, and the people who 
had been corrupted and led aftray were cleansed through 
penitence. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of the heretics burnt at Cologne. 

About the same time several heretics were arrefted at 
Cologne under archbishop Rheinbold, and after being 
examined and convifted by learned men, were condemned 
by the secular tribunal. Sentence was passed, and they were 
about to be led out to the ftake, when one of them, by name 
Arnold, whom the reft acknowledged as their leader, begged, 
as was said by those present, that he might be given some 
bread and a bowl of water. Some thought that this requeft 
should be granted, but others who were wiser dissuaded them, 
saying that with these some diabolical charm might be 
wrought which would be a ftumbling-block and perhaps 
ruin for the weak. 

Novice .—I cannot think what he can have wished to do 
with bread and water. 

Mon \.—From the words of another heretic, who was 
arrefted and burnt three years ago by the king of Spain, I 
think that he wished to use them for a sacriligious com¬ 
munion, which would be a viaticum for his disciples to eternal 
damnation. For a Spanish abbot of our Order, who had 
been one of the bishops and prelates of the church who had 
condemned the errors of this heretic, told us, when passing 
our way, that part of his teaching was, that any ruftic could 
make the Body of Chrift at his own table out of the bread 
that he was eating ; this accursed heretic was a blacksmith. 

Novice .—How then did it fare with the heretics of Cologne ? 


34i 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon \.—They were taken outside the town, and were 
together put into the fire near the Jewish cemetery. After 
the flames had taken Strong hold of them, in the sight and 
hearing of a great crowd, Arnold placed his hand on the 
heads of his dying disciples, and exhorted them: “ Stand 
faSt in your faith, for this day you shall be with Laurence,” 
and yet they were very far from the faith of Laurence. There 
was a maiden among them, beautiful though a heretic, and 
she was drawn from the fire by the compassion of some who 
promised that they would provide her with a husband, or 
if it seemed better, would place her in a nunnery. She con¬ 
sented to this in words, but when the heretics were now dead, 
she said to those who had charge of her: “ Tell me, where 
does that seducer lie? ” and when they pointed out to her 
where Master Arnold lay, she slipped from their hands, veiled 
her face with her robe, and thew herself upon the body of 
the dead man, and with him went down to burn for ever 
in hell. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Of the Waldensian heresy in the city of Metz. 

A few years ago, under the learned bishop Bertram, the 
Waldensian heresy sprang up in the city of Metz in the 
following way. On a certain feaSt the bishop was preaching 
to the people in the cathedral, when he saw two of the devil’s 
servants Standing in the crowd and cried : “ I see the devil’s 
messengers among you. See, there are the men,” pointing 
to them with his finger, “ who in my presence were con¬ 
demned at Montpellier and caSt out of the city for their 
heresies.” They replied bodly to the bishop, and they had in 
their company a scholar, who barked at him like a dog attack¬ 
ing him with every kind of insult. When they left the 
church, they gathered a crowd round them, and preached 

342 



Of Demons 


their errors to them. Some of the clerks present said to 
them : “ Sirs, does not the ApoStlc say, How shall they preach, 
except they be sent (Rom. x. 15)? We should like to know 
who sent you hither to preach,” and they replied: “ The 
Holy Spirit.” Now the bishop was unable to use force 
againSl them, owing to certain powerful citizens, who 
befriended them in hatred of the bishop, because he had 
expelled from the church a certain dead usurer, their relative. 
In truth they had been sent out by the spirit of error, and 
by their preaching the Waldensian heresy was planted in 
that city, and to this day is not wholly extinguished. 

Not/ice. —Alas I that there should be even to-day so many 
heresies in the church. 

Mon\. —They are the fruit of the fury and malice of the 
devil. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

Of the heresy of the Albigenses. 

In the time of pope Innocent, the predecessor of the present 
pope, Honorius, during the Strife between Philip and Otto, 
the rival kings of the Romans, the envy of the devil caused 
the Albigensian heresy to sprout forth, or to speak more 
Slridtiy, to ripen. So great was its Strength, that all the 
wheat of the faith of that nation seemed changed into the 
tares of error. Abbots of our Order with certain bishops 
were despatched to root up the tares with the harrow of 
Catholic teaching ; but by the resistance of the enemy who 
had sown those tares, they had little success. 

Novice. —What was their error? 

Mon\. —Their leaders had collected some points from the 
Manichaean dogma, and some of the errors which Origen 
is said to have written againSt Periarchon, and very many 
which they had fashioned out of their own heads. They 


343 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


follow Manichaeus in believing that there are two sources 
of life, a good God and a wicked God, i.e. the devil ; and 
they say that the wicked God created all bodies, and the 
good God all souls. 

Not/ice. —Moses makes it certain that God created both 
soul and body, when he says: The Lord God formed man, 
i.e. the body, of the dutt of the ground, and breathed into 
his noflrils the breath of life (Gen. ii. 7) i.e. the soul. 

Mon\. —If they received Moses and the prophets, there 
would be no heretics. They deny the resurrection of the 
body ; they mock at any benefit coming to the dead from 
the living ; they say that there is no profit in going to church, 
or in praying there ; and in these things they are worse than 
jews or Pagans, who believe them all. They have repudiated 
baptism, and blaspheme the sacrament of the Body and Blood 
of Christ. 

Novice. —Why do they endure such severe persecutions 
from the faithful, if they expeCt no recompense for them 
in the future? 

Mon\. —They say that they look forward to the glory of 
the spirit. One of the aforesaid abbots, who was a monk, 
seeing a certain knight sitting on a horse and talking to his 
ploughman, and thinking him to be a heretic, as indeed he 
was, drew near to him and asked : “ Will you tell me, good 
Sir, whose field this is? ” and when the other answered that 
it was his, he continued: “ And what do you do with its 
fruits? ” “ Both my family,” he said, “ and I live upon 

them, and I beStow some part of them upon the poor.” 
When the monk went on: “ What advantage do you hope 
to gain from such alms? ” the knight made this reply : “ That 
my spirit may walk in glory after death.” The monk asked, 
“ Where will it go? ” and the knight said : “ In accordance 
with its merit. If it has lived a good life, and won this 
reward from God, it will, when it leaves my body, enter 
into that of some future prince or king, or of some other 
illustrious personage, in which it will find happiness ; or if 
it has lived ill, it will enter the body of someone both poor 
and wretched, in which it will find suffering.” The fool 
believed, as the other Albigenses do, that, in accordance with 


344 



Of Demons 


its merit, the soul will pass through different bodies, even 
those of animals and reptiles. 

Novice .—What a foul heresy ! 

Mon \.—The errors of the Albigenses spread to such an 
extent that in a short time it had infected more than a 
thousand towns, and if it had not been cut back by the swords 
of the faithful, I think it would have corrupted the whole 
of Europe. In the year of our Lord 1210, a crusade was 
preached againSt the Albigenses throughout Germany and 
France, and in the following year there arose against them 
from Germany, Leopold, Duke of Auftria, Engilbert, then 
provost, and afterwards archbishop of Cologne, and his 
brother Adolphus, Count of Altenberg, William, Count of 
Julich, and many others of all ranks and dignities. The 
same thing took place in France, Normandy and Poitou ; 
and the preacher and leader of them all was Arnold, abbot 
of Citeaux, afterwards bishop of Narbonne. 

When they came to the great city of Beziers ; which is 
said to have contained more than a hundred thousand men, 
they laid siege to it ; and in the sight of them all the heretics 
defiled in an unspeakable manner the book of the sacred 
gospel, and then caff it from the wall towards the Chriftians, 
and sending arrows after it, cried: “ There is your law, 
miserable wretches ! ” But Chriff, the author of the gospel, 
did not suffer such an insult to be hurled at Him unavenged. 
For some of His followers, burning with zeal for the faith, 
placed ladders againfl the wall, and like lions, after the 
example of those of whom we read in the book of the Macca¬ 
bees (2 Macc. xi. 11), fearlessly climbed the walls, and while 
the heretics were Stricken with panic from on high and fled, 
they opened the gates to the others, and so gained possession 
of the city. 

When they discovered, from the admissions of some of 
them, that there were Catholics mingled with the heretics, 
they said to the abbot, “ Sir, what shall we do, for we cannot 
distinguish between the faithful and the heretics.” The 
abbot, like the others, was afraid that many, in fear of death, 
would pretend to be Catholics, and after their departure, 
would return to their heresy, and is said to have replied: 


345 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

“ Kill them all ; for the Lord knoweth them that are His 
(2 Tim. ii. 19) ! ” and so countless numbers in that town 
were slain. 

By the Divine favour, they also gained possession of another 
large town, near Toulouse, called The Beautiful Valley, from 
its position. When the people there were examined, and all 
the reft had professed themselves willing to return to the 
faith, there remained four hundred and fifty, whom the 
devil hardened in their obftinacy ; and of these four hundred 
were burnt at the ftake, and the others hanged on the gallows. 
The same thing took place in the other cities and forts, the 
wretched folk often giving themselves up to death of their 
own accord. When the people of Toulouse were brought 
into the same ftraits, they promised all satisfaction, but not 
honeftly as was afterwards clear. For the treacherous count 
of S. Egidius, the prince and leader of all the heretics, after 
surrendering all his property in the Lateran Council, to wit, 
his lands and farms, his towns and caftles, and after moft of 
them had been occupied by right of war by the good Catholic, 
Simon de Montfort, betook himself to Toulouse, from which 
city he ftill harasses and attacks the faithful even to this day. 

It was only this year that Dom Conrad, cardinal bishop of 
Porto, who was sent as legate againft the Albigenses, wrote 
to the chapter of Citeaux that one of the Toulousan nobles 
had perpetrated so horrible a crime in hatred of Chrift and 
in an attempt to bring confusion upon our faith, that it ought 
assuredly to anger even the very enemies of Chrift themselves. 
He had committed an abominable and disgufting outrage by 
the high altar of the cathedral, and others, heaping madness 
upon madness, insulted the Crucifix upon the altar with 
indescribable villainy ; and after this they dragged down the 
sacred image itself, and cut off the arms, showing themselves 
far worse than the soldiers of Herod, who spared the dead 
Saviour, and would not break His legs. 

Novice .—Who would not ftand stupified before the amaz¬ 
ing patience of God ! 

Mon\.—For the Lord is long suffering, but He will in no 
wise let thee go (Ecclus v. 4). He, who punished so terribly 
in the neck and throat the people of Damietta, because after 

346 



Of Demons 


their viStory they had tied a rope round the neck of a crucifix 
and dragged it through the Streets, will by no means clear 
such blasphemers as these. Before the hoSts of the Lord 
came against the Albigenses, as we have related above, they 
had invited Miralimomelinus, the king of Morocco, to come 
to their help ; and he crossed over from Africa into Spain 
with so incredible a hoSt that he looked to overrun the whole 
of Europe. He even sent a message to pope Innocent that 
he intended to Stable his horses in the portico of S. Peter’s, 
and to plant his Standard on the church. This indeed was 
partly carried out, though not at all in the way he had 
intended. For because God abases the proud, at that very 
time, in the year of grace 1212, on the 16th day of July, 
40,000 fighting men of his army were slain ; while he him¬ 
self fled to Seville, and died there of grief. His principal 
Standard was captured in the fight, and sent to Innocent, 
who set it up in S. Peter’s to the glory of ChriSt. 

Let this be enough about the Albigenses. 

Novice .—If there had been learned men among these 
heretics, perhaps they would not have Strayed so far. 

Mon \.—When learned men begin to fall into error, they 
are driven by the devil to display even greater and more 
grievous folly than the illiterate. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of the heretics burned at Paris. 

At the same time as this outbreak of the Albigensian 
heresy, it happened in the city of Paris, which is the fountain 
of all knowledge and the well of the Holy Scriptures, that the 
persuasion of the devil instilled a Strange perversity of intel- 
le< 5 f into several learned men. These were their names: 
MaSler William of Poitou, a subdeacon who had read the 
classics in Paris and had Studied theology there for three 


347 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


years, Bernard, a subdeacon, William, a goldsmith, who was 
their prophet, Stephen, a priest of Corbeil, Stephen, a prieft 
of Chelles, John, a prieft of Uncinis ; all of them theological 
Students except Bernard ; Dudo, the private secretary of 
MaSter Almenc, a prieSt, Elmand, an acolyte, Odo, a deacon, 
MaSter Garinus, who had come to Paris for the classics, and 
who, as a prieSt, had Studied theology under MaSter Stephen, 
archbishop of Canterbury ; Ulrich, a prieSt of Lire, who was 
more than sixty years old, and had been a Student of theology 
for a long time, Peter of S. Clodowald, another sexagenarian 
prieSt and theological Student, and Stephen, a deacon of Old 
Corbeil. At the instigation of the devil these men had 
elaborated many heresies, and had already preached them in 
many places. 

Novice .—What were the main points on which these men 
of ripe age and learning fell into error? 

Mon \.—They said that the Body of ChriSt was in the 
Bread of the altar only in the same way as it was in all bread 
and in eveything ; and that God had spoken through Ovid 
juSt in the same way as through AuguStine. They denied 
the resurreftion of the body, saying that there was no Paradise 
nor hell, but that he had Paradise within himself who pos¬ 
sessed the knowledge of God, as they did, while he who was 
in mortal sin had hell within himself juft as a man has a 
rotten tooth in his mouth. They said it was idolatry to set 
up altars to the saints, or to burn incense before the sacred 
images, and that he who kissed the bones of the martyrs did 
it with his tongue in his cheek. But the worft blasphemy 
that they dared to utter was againft the Holy Spirit, from 
Whom is derived all purity and holiness. They said that 
if anyone were in the Spirit, even if he were to commit forni¬ 
cation or be polluted with any other defilement, yet there 
would be no sin in him, because that Spirit, who is God, 
being altogether separate from the flesh, cannot sin, and the 
man, who is nothing, cannot sin, so long as that Spirit, who 
is God, is in him ; for it is the same God that wor\eth all 
in all (i Cor. xii. 6). From whence they admitted that each 
one of them was both Chrift and the Holy Spirit ; and in 
them was fulfilled that saying of the gospel: False Chritts 

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Of Demons 


and false prophets shall arise etc. (Matt. xxiv. 24). These 
moft unhappy men had utterly worthless arguments of their 
own with which they Strove to support their errors. Their 
perfidy was discovered in the following way. The above 
mentioned William the goldsmith went to Mailer Rudolph 
of Nemours saying that he had been sent by the Lord, and 
laying before him the ensuing articles of unbelief: “ The 
Father has operated in the Old Testament under certain 
forms, namely, those of the Law ; in a similar way, the Son 
under certain forms, such as the Sacrament of the Altar, 
baptism and so forth. As the forms of the Law fell at the 
firil coming of Chrift, so now all the forms, under which 
the Son has worked, will fall and the Sacraments come to an 
end, because the Person of the Holy Spirit will clearly declare 
Himself in those in whom He has been incarnated, and chiefly 
will He speak by seven men, one of whom will be William 
himself.” Also he prophesied that within five years these 
four great plagues rauS come : the firft upon the people, 
who will be consumed by famine ; the second will be the 
sword, by which the kings will slay each other ; in the third 
the earth will open and swallow up the townsfolk ; and in 
the fourth fire will come down from heaven upon the prelates 
of the church, who are the members of Antichrist. For he 
said that the pope was Antichrist, and Rome was Babylon ; 
for the pope sits upon Mount Olivet, i.e. in the plenitude of 
power. Now already thirteen years have passed, and yet 
none of these things have happened, which the false prophet 
foretold muff come to pass within five years. Further, that 
he might win the favour of Philip of France, he added this: 
“ All the kingdoms of the earth will be subject to the king 
of the Franks and to his son, who will live under the dis¬ 
pensation of the Holy Spirit and will never die ; and there 
will be given to the king of France twelve loaves, i.e. the 
knowledge and power of the Scriptures.” 

When he heard this, Mailer Rudolph asked him if he had 
any associates to whom these things had been revealed. 
When he replied that he had many, and gave the names 
we have mentioned above, this prudent man, considering 
the danger that hung over the church, and that he alone could 


349 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


not investigate their wickedness or convift them, practised 
a certain dissimulation, and said that he had received a 
revelation from the Holy Spirit concerning a certain prieft 
who was to aid him in preaching their dodlrine. Then that 
he might keep his reputation unsullied, he told the whole 
Story to the abbot of S. Vicftor, and to Mafter Robert and to 
Brother Thomas, and went with them to the bishop of Paris, 
and to three mafters learned in theology, namely the dean of 
Salzburg, Mafter Robert of Kortui, and Mafter Stephen, and 
told everything to them. They were greatly terrified, ordered 
Rudolph and the priest, on pain of damnation, to pretend to 
be in sympathy with these men, until they had heard all 
their teaching, and had fully explored all the articles of their 
unbelief. Whereupon, to carry out this design, Mafter 
Rudolph and his ally joined the heretics in their missionary 
journey of three months round the dioceses of Paris, Lyons 
and Troyes, and the archepiscopate of Sens, and found out, 
as far as possible, all those that adhered to their seft. 

In order to gain more fully the confidence of the heretics, 
Mafter Rudolph used to put on a rapt expression, and pretend 
that he had been caught up to heaven in the spirit, and in 
their conventicles afterwards would relate to them what he 
said he had seen, and promise that he would publicly preach 
their faith unceasingly. At laft he went back to the bishop, 
and told him what they had seen and heard. Then the 
bishop sent throughout the province to summon them all, 
for none were in the city except Bernard ; and when they 
were in safe cuftody, he convened the neighbouring bishops 
and mafters of theology to examine them ; the aforesaid 
articles were laid before them, which some of them upheld 
in the presence of all, and others, while willing to withdraw 
and recognising that they had been wrong, yet flood firm 
with the reft: in the same obftinacy, and refused to recant. 

After this display of hopeless perversity, they were taken, 
by the advice of the bishop to the Campus, and there, in the 
presence of all the clergy and people, degraded from their 
sacred offices, and on the return of the king, for he happened 
to be absent at that time, they were burnt at the flake. Of 
so obftinate a mind did they show themselves, that they 


35 » 



Of Demons 


would give no reply to any questions, nor would they vouch¬ 
safe any sign of penitence, even in the agony of death. When 
they were taken out to punishment, there arose so mighty a 
tempefl, that no one doubted that it had been raised by those 
who had inftilled these mortal errors into dying men. 

That night he who had been held their leader knocked at 
the door of a certain recluse, and too late confessed his error, 
telling her that he held an important place in hell, and was 
doomed to eternal fires. Four of them had been examined 
but were not burnt; to wit, Maffer Garinus, the prieft Ulrich, 
and the deacon Stephen: these were all sent to prison for 
life ; but Peter, before he was arrefled, took fright and 
became a monk. The body of Almeric, who had been the 
leader of this wickedness, was caff out of the cemetery, and 
buried in the open field. At the same time it was enjoined 
in Paris that no one should read any books on physical science 
for the next three years ; and a perpetual ban was laid upon 
the books of Maffer David and the Gallic books of theology, 
and they were publicly burnt; and thus by the grace of God, 
this heresy was rooted out in its beginning. 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of a heretic burnt at Troyes, who claimed to be the 
Holy Spirit. 

It is scarecely two years ago that a man at Troyes, being 
full of the devil, gave out publicly that he was the Holy 
Spirit ; but the people inflamed with rage by such madness, 
put him into a wicker cage, piled fuel around it, and burnt 
him to ashes. 

Novice.- —Surely the life of such men muff be very 
execrable, when their doftrines are so foul ? 

Monk .—That you may the more detefl all heretical seels, 
I will add an example of their way of life. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Of the heretics of Verona. 

During the days of the Emperor Frederick, when the pope 
Lucius was making a Stay in Verona, a city of Lombardy, 
and many prelates of the church and princes of the empire 
were gathered there, our fellow monk, Gotteschalk, who was 
then canon of Cologne Cathedral, was also Staying there with 
his brother Everard, a canon of S. Gereon. This laSt noticed 
that their hoSt left the house every night, taking with him 
his wife and daughter, and when Everard asked one of them 
whither they went and what they did, the answer was: 
“ Come and see.” So he went with them to a large hall 
underground, where many of both sexes were congregated, 
and in general silence a heredc leader pronounced a sermon 
full of blasphemies, in which he intruded them in life and 
morals. Then the lights were put out, and there ensued 
such scenes as were slanderously alleged by the heathen 
againSt the Christians in the early days of the Church. After 
he had been attending these meetings for some six months, 
the leader one night in the presence of all suggested that so 
regular an adherent as Everard had shown nimself should 
now take the position of a teacher. This frightened him, 
and he went no more, and afterwards told his brother that 
he had frequented the conventicles of the heretics not for the 
sake of the teaching but for the opportunity of sin. See then 
under what laws they live, and what lives they lead. Nor 
is this to be wondered at, since they believe neither in the 
resurrection, nor in hell, nor in any punishment of the wicked ; 
and therefore think that they can do what they please with 
impunity. 

Novice .—I have heard that there are many heretics in 
Lombardy. 

Mon \.—This is only to be expected, since they have their 
teachers in every town, who openly read the sacred pages, 
and perversely expound them. 


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Of Demons 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Of a heretic who said that the devil was the ruler 
of this world because he had created it. 

When king Otto set out for Rome to be crowned as 
Emperor, there went with him John, bishop of Cambrai, 
Henry, the scholafficus of S. Gereon, and Master Herman, 
canon of Bonn ; and the three went together to the school 
of a certain heretic teacher. They heard him read this 
passage: Now is the judgment of this world, now shall the 
prince of this world be caH out (John xii. 31), and this was 
the way he expounded it: “ ChriSt summoned the devil as 
prince of this world, because he had created it.” Thereupon 
Herman disputed with him somewhat severely and proved 
to him, as he afterwards told me, not only from the Scriptures, 
but also from reason, that God had created all things, visible 
and invisible, material and spiritual, by the Word alone. 
Let this be enough about heretics, who are in truth limbs 
of the devil. But be sure of this, that the devil wreaks his 
malice much more cruelly upon heretics than upon the 
possessed. 

Novice. — Can the possessed be in a Slate of grace ? 

Mon\. —Yes ; for as has been said above, he does not 
occupy their souls, but their bodies. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

Of a girl into whom the devil entered when she was 
five years old. 

A woman in Brisach was very cruelly tried by this calamity ; 
for the devil had entered into her when she was five years 
old, and this was the cause: One day when she was drink¬ 
ing milk, her father, in a temper, said to her: “ I wish you 


353 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


might eat the devil in your greediness ! ” Immediately the 
child felt his presence and was harassed by him until she was 
grown up, and only this year was she set free from him by the 
merits of the apoftles Peter and Paul, whose church she 
visited. Who dare say that a baptized child of five years old 
was not in a State of grace? The very demon himself said 
about her : “ When I have gone out, she will be exempt 
from all pains in purgatory after this life.” The possessed 
are able to make their confessions, to pray, and to communi¬ 
cate ; but that God permits the demon to do bodily injury 
to some of them, I will show you by several examples. 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

Of the lay-brother Theodoric, who was carried by 
the devil from the city of Lubec\. 

One of our lay-brothers, Theodoric of Soeft, told me that 
when he was a young man, a friend of his promised to make 
love to a certain girl in Lubeck on his behalf. He gained the 
assent of the young woman, but when Theodoric hoped to 
win her, his friend showed that he had been making a mock 
of him, and had wooed her for himself. When Theodoric 
learnt of this he was very angry and cried: “ The devil who 
brought me here will be able to take me away again.” 
Immediately upon this invitation the devil appeared, picked 
up the man and lifted him into the air, and carrying him away 
from the town, set him down in an out of the way place by the 
shore of a certain lake, and then said to him : “ If you had not 
in some fashion made the sign of the cross, I should have 
killed you juft now ”; for when he was carried off he had 
crossed himself, though very slightly and imperfeftly. When 
let go by the demon, he fell so heavily that he lay senseless on 
the ground vomiting blood. At laft, regaining a little of his 
ftrength, he crawled on hands and knees to the water, washed 

354 



Of Demons 


his face, and drank a little, and then with great toil, reached 
his lodging. When he entered the house, as soon as the light 
met his eyes, he fell again into a fainting fit. They summoned 
the prieft, who read over him the firft chapter of S. John’s 
gospel, and fortified him againft the attacks of the devil with 
prayer. For a whole year he suffered so much from trembling 
in all his limbs that he could not hold a cup in his hand to 
drink from it. He used to tell how when the devil carried him 
away and held him tightly in his arms, he could see the church 
of S. Nicholas and all the buildings of the city ftanding out 
clearly in the bright light of the moon. You have an almoft 
similar ftory in the eleventh chapter of the third book, which 
tells of Henry, also a citizen of Soeft, whom the devil snatched 
up from the market place at night, and after carrying him 
beyond the monastery of S. Patroclus, set him down in a field. 
So baleful and so poisonous is the nature of demons, that men 
are often injured by the mere sight of them. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Of the lay-brother Albero, who fell sic\ at the sight 
of a demon. 

When our lay-brother Albero was a novice, and had been 
sitting up in the hall one night with another lay-brother, 
because both were assailed with night terrors, juft before the 
bell rang for matins, he took a turn round the cloifter and 
saw in the diftance near the lavatory something that looked 
like a human shadow. Thinking that it was our fellow monk 
Frederick, he wished to make signs to him to go back to bed; 
but remembering that this brother was feeble minded, he 
drew back again, in the fear that he might do him some injury. 
While he was thus hesitating, the shadow grew larger before 
his eyes until it reached the next ftorey of the building. Juft 


355 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


then the bell rang in the dormitory, and he went into the 
bakehouse, where the furnace had been lighted for baking the 
bread; and no sooner did his eyes fall upon the fire, which 
seemed to glow, as if only behind a sheet of glass, than sick¬ 
ness began to come over him. He went out at once and lay 
down under a tree, and for nearly eight days from that hour 
was so ill both in mind and body, that he could not eat or 
drink or sleep. 

Novice .—I should like to know why it is, that when a man 
has seen a demon, the sight of a fire immediately afterwards 
should bring madness upon him. 

Mon \.—Fire is the producer of light, whereas the devil is 
the prince and creator of darkness. Light and darkness are 
as contrary to one another as heat and cold. If you pass from 
darkness into a blaze of sunlight, or vice versa, your sight is 
immediately troubled and digressed by the sudden change. 
So too, if you bring your hand when frozen too near to the 
fire, or plunge it when burnt into cold water, the second 
element will give you even more pain than that caused by the 
firSt. What wonder then, if after the sight of the devil, who 
is, as I said, the author of darkness and of eternal fire, human 
nature is disturbed and terrified, is Straitened and made faint, 
when it sees the light of this world, which is altogether the 
opposite to the light of hell. The latter breeds darkness, the 
former gives light. The two are utterly at variance, both in 
appearance and in effedt. Yet perfe< 5 t men, as has been said 
above, can often look upon demons without any terror and 
without any failing of the senses. 

Novice .—If the sight of the devil in a form that he has 
assumed is so dangerous and harmful, who could bear to look 
upon him as he is. 

Mon \.—It is not possible for the eye of the body to see the 
devil as he is. 

Novice .—Why ? 

Mon \.—Because the devil is a spirit, and a spirit can only 
be seen by a spirit, as is the opinion of nearly all authorities. 
The souls of the reprobate see him in hell; and as it is the 
highest happiness of the eledt to look upon God, so it is said 
to be the greatest punishment of the wicked to look upon the 

356 



Of Demons 


devil. Would you like to hear of the peril of some who 
desired to see him in his own person ? 

Novice .—Indeed I greatly desire it; because the more horror 
and malice that I hear about him, so much the more shall I 
fear to sin. 

Moni —Listen then. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of the abbot of S. Agatha, and a mon\ and lay- 
brother of his who fainted away at the sight of 
the devil. 

Twelve years ago, William, the abbot of S. Agatha, which 
is a CiSlercian monastery in the diocese of Liege, was on his 
way to Eberbach, to which S. Agatha belongs, and when they 
reached Cologne, he said to his companions, one of his monks 
and a lay-brother named Adolphus: “ It would be an a< 5 t of 
mercy for us to go and see that possessed sifter of the lay- 
brother of Eberbach, so that we may tell him how she fares.” 

They both agreed; and they went to the house where they 
found her sitting in the midst of many others. When the 
abbot put questions to her, she refused to answer a word, even 
when he asked if she would like to send any message to 
her brother, and remained dumb until he said: “ I adjure 
you, by Him, whom I have this day handled in the mass, 
that you answer me.” Then indeed the demon showed him¬ 
self obedient and willing to reply through the woman’s mouth; 
and seeing this his two companions begged the abbot to have 
the woman taken to an upper room that they might have con¬ 
versation with her in private. This was done, and the abbot 
asked the demon several questions, and when he found he 
could get only lying answers, he again adjured him by the 
Moff High to speak nothing but the truth. The demon 
promised this, and the abbot bade the monk and lay-brother to 


357 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


withdraw to a little distance. Then he asked of the condition 
of the souls of some of those who had lately died both at 
Eberbach and at S. Agatha, and the devil gave such probable 
accounts of each one, although the woman had never seen 
them, that the abbot could have no further doubt of his truth¬ 
fulness. Such and such, he said, were in glory, and others were 
ftill in purgatorial pains, and for these the abbot determined 
upon special prayers. He gave him also information about 
many other things so that the abbot marvelled greatly. 

Later, the lay-brother begged that he might be allowed to 
speak with him privately, and when the abbot granted this, 
and withdrew a little way with the monk, the lay-brother said : 
“As my abbot has ordered you to give none but true answers, 
so do I urge you to tell me at once if you know anything 
againft me, which would be hurtful to my soul.” The devil 
replied : “ I do know things; yesterday without your abbot’s 
knowledge, you borrowed twelve denarii from such a woman 
at such a house in Utrecht, and you tied them up in a piece of 
rag, and hid them carefully in your bosom.” Which indeed 
had been the fad ; for this lay-brother, as he told me, had 
thought to himself in this wise: “ If perchance your abbot 
should send you on some mission, you can use this money for 
your expenses.” Then the lay-brother asked if he knew any¬ 
thing more ; and when the demon replied : “ I know you to 
be a thief,” the other said: “lam not conscious of any theft 
since I came into the Order.” Whereupon the devil said: 
“ In the time of scarcity you gave to the poor money and other 
things which belonged to your monastery and not to you.” 
When the lay-brother replied that he had never thought that 
such works of mercy could be a theft, the devil said : “ Accord¬ 
ing to my idea of truth, they are ; because they were done 
without permission, nor have you at any time since then 
whispered them ” ; by whispering he meant confession. 
Immediately the lay-brother turned to the abbot, drew him 
aside into a private place, and humbly confessed all the things 
that the devil had thrown in his teeth, and undertook suitable 
penance. Then he returned to the obsessed woman and asked 
the devil if he ftill knew any sin againSt him, and now had 
won grace to hear : “ So far as I know, I have nothing againft 

358 



Of Demons 


you now, because you have juft now bent down your knees 
to whisper, and have thus taken all my previous knowledge 
from me.” 

Novice. —In this fa ft are clearly seen both the presence of 
the demon and the power of confession.” 

Mon\. —We have said enough about these things in the 
book on Confession. After this the demon was adjured by 
the abbot to go out of the woman, and he replied : “ Whither 
shall I go?” When the abbot said : “ See, I open my mouth; 
enter it, if you can he answered : “ I cannot enter, because 
this day the Moft High has entered there.” Then the abbot: 
“ Climb up then upon these two fingers,” holding up for 
him his thumb and forefinger. “ I cannot do that,” he 
said : “ because they have this day handled the Moft High ” ; 
for the abbot had said mass in the morning. When he ftill 
insifted that he should go out of her, the demon replied: 
“ The Moft High does not yet will it ; for two years longer 
I shall dwell in her ; after that time she will be delivered 
from me near the church of that James which indeed 
actually came to pass. Then the monk and the lay-brother 
besought the abbot that he would command the demon to 
show himself in his natural form. The abbot replied that he 
did not approve of this, and urged them to be satisfied with 
the orders he had already laid upon him ; but when they per¬ 
sisted very obstinately, that this should be done, he was at laft 
persuaded and said : “ I order you by the power of Chrift to 
show yourself to us in your natural form.” When he replied, 
“ Will you not go away till you have seen me ?” and the abbot 
answered, “ No,” Straightway the woman began to swell 
before their eyes and to rise up and up like a tower, and her 
eyes to flash and send out smoke like a furnace. At this sight 
the monk fell into a fainting fit, and the lay-brother became 
senseless, and unless the abbot, who was of Stronger mould, 
had quickly ordered the demon to resume his former aspeift, 
he would have fallen unconscious himself. 

If you find difficulty in believing my words, go and ask 
them, for they are Still, I believe, alive, and are truly religious 
men and will tell you nothing but the simple truth. But the 

1 S. James of Compoftella. 


359 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


demon obeyed the order, and when he had reduced the coun¬ 
tenance of the woman to its former appearance, he said to the 
abbot: “ Never in your life did you give so foolish a com¬ 
mand ; know for certain that if you had not to-day celebrated 
the Divine mysteries, none of you would ever have told to any 
man the things that I have now been showing you. Do you 
imagine that any man may look on me and live?” 

The men who were waiting below heard a noise on the 
upper floor and came upstairs, and finding the monk and lay- 
brother unconscious, revived them with water, and carried 
them down. Then the demon said to the abbot: “ Where 
are you going now?” and when the abbot had answered : “ To 
Eberbach,” he went on : ‘‘I too have been in Sueverbach and 
fared well enough there : ironically jelling on the name, for 
that was soon after the time that the lay-brothers revolted 
against the Order. So dreadful and so poisonous is the sight 
of demons that it not only makes healthy men sick, but some¬ 
times even kills them. 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Of two young men who fell sic\ after seeing the 
devil in the shape of a woman. 

Two young squires, one of whom was the page of the abbot 
of Priim, who told me what I am about to relate, were exercis¬ 
ing their horses after sunset on the eve of S. John Baptist, 
near the Stream which flows paSt the monastery, when they 
saw on the other side of the Stream what appeared to be a 
woman in a linen robe. Thinking that she was practising 
some magic, as some do on that particular night, they crossed 
the Stream to arreSt her. She girt up her robe and seemed to 
flee before them, while they pursued at full gallop ; and when 
they found that their horses were exhausted without having 
been able to overtake the fugitive, whom they saw flitting 

360 



Of Demons 


before them like a shadow, one of them said: “ What in the 
world are we doing? it is a demon.” Then they both made 
the sign of the cross and the portent vanished. From that 
hour both men and horses fell into a Slate of languor which 
lasted for so long, that it was only with difficulty that they 
escaped from death. 

Novice. —I do not wonder at this in the case of the devil, 
when I read that a basilisk can kill men and birds and cattle 
who look upon it. 

Mon \.—This is why the devil is spoken of as a basilisk in 
the Psalm (Ps. xci. 13, vulg.), and I will show you this power 
of his in the following examples. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

Of a woman who died when her hand had been 
pressed by the devil under the form of a serving 
man whom she /{new. 

In Kunincskirgen, as a prieSl of that town told our 
fellow monk Lambert, a certain honourable matron was one 
evening passing alone along the Street on her way home in the 
company of another woman, when the devil, taking the form 
of a serving man, well known as a cheery fellow, grasped 
her hand and pressed it closely, but when she ordered him 
to leave her, at once he disappeared. Then she immediately 
began to feel ill, and said to her companion: “ That serving 
man pressed my hand, and from that moment a weakness of 
the heart has come over me.” When the other said : “ But 
there has been no one here,” the matron answered: “ MoSl 
certainly there has! and I am not likely to forget the impudent 
look he gave me.” Then she went into her house, lay down 
on her bed, and was dead within a few days. 


361 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of a woman in Altenahr who died within a few 
days, after being embraced by the devil. 

A similar thing happened this year to a woman who lived 
near Altenahr. She had a drunken husband, and she never 
dared to go to bed until he had come back from the tavern. 
One night she had been preparing the dough for making the 
bread, and being tired out, was sitting outside her house, 
waiting for the return of her husband, when she saw two men 
dressed in white coming towards her. One of them ran up 
to embrace her, and pressed her in his arms, but when she 
cried out, they both vanished. She rushed into the house, and 
as soon as she saw the light, went raving mad, and terrified 
her daughter into loud outcries, and a few days afterwards she 
died. By what judgment of God such things happen, I 
cannot tell. 

Novice. —These are awful Stories. 

Mon\. —Listen to another, which may well Strike terror 
into us, who call ourselves religious men. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Also of a lay-brother, who, when asleep in the 
middle of the day, was embraced by a demon under 
the appearance of a nun, and died within three days. 

Once when the lay-brothers of our Order were taking mid¬ 
day reSt in the dormitory during the summer, the devil, in 
the shape of a Benedi&ine nun, went round the beds of all, 
Standing a while by some, and passing in haSte by others. 
When she came to a certain lay-brother she bent over him, 
and putting her arms round his neck, pressed kisses upon his 

362 



Of Demons 


mouth. One of the brethren, a truly pious man, saw this, 
and how the nun then vanished ; and. Stupefied, both at the 
appearance of such a person and at such an aift in such a place, 
he got up and went to the bed of the lay-brother, whom he 
found faff asleep indeed, but lying in a fashion that was both 
immodeSt and exposed. When the bell for nones rang and 
the others rose, this lay-brother found himself too ill to get up, 
and being taken to the infirmary in the evening, died within 
three days. I think that it was the maSter of a grange of that 
monastery who told us this Story, saying that it had been told 
to him under seal of confession by the brother who had seen 
the vision. 

Novice .—Since God is exceeding merciful, and a sleeping 
man differs but little from one who is dead, why should this 
lay brother be punished thus heavily for so small a fault ? 

Mon \.—He may have been negligent in his care for seem¬ 
liness. Seemliness or modeSty is the ornament of all virtues, 
and ought to be observed in behaviour as well as in dress. It 
often happens that as in the night a man gladly lets his 
thoughts turn again to those subjects which have occupied his 
mind during the day, so in his sleep he may make an outward 
manifestation of the thoughts on which he has been dwelling 
while awake. 

Novice .—I understand this, because I have known of 
robbers, who when sleeping at night, have got up, put on their 
armour, drawn their swords, Struck at the walls, and then, 
when tired out, have put everything back in its place, 
and gone back to bed ; and in the morning have remembered 
nothing about it. 

Mon \.—Possibly this lay-brother had indulged too much in 
wine, for exposure readily follows drunkenness. If Noah 
had not been drunken, he would not have been exposed ; 
and it was because he was exposed that he was mocked by his 
son. Not holy angels alone, but evil spirits also, are about 
us at night, and if by negligence or laxity it should happen 
that we are lying on our beds in unseemly fashion, we put 
the good to flight, and invite the evil to mock us. How much 
grace sleepers have thus sometimes loft, you will hear it in the 
thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of the seventh book, where 

363 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

the blessed mother of God visited the sleepers in her own 
person. 

Novice.— Was this lay-brother in a Slate of grace? 

Mon\. —I cannot tell any more than I can tell about the 
aforesaid women, who were slain by the sight of the devil. 
But that the devil slays some sinners in their sins, the follow¬ 
ing examples will show. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Of the \night Thiemon, whose bowels were torn out 
by the devil, after playing dice with him. 

In SoeSt, which is a town in the diocese of Cologne, there 
lived a knight called Thiemon, who was so wholly given up 
to a game of dice, that he could not reft without it night or 
day. He used always to carry about with him a bag of money, 
so that he might be ready if by chance he met anyone willing 
to play. So skilled and fortunate at the game was he, that very 
few ever played with him without coming away losers. But 
that posterity might know how contrary to God’s will are all 
such games, in which anger, envy, quarrels and losses are 
gendered, and words of sin bandied to and fro, the devil was 
allowed to play with this man who had outplayed many, and 
to disembowel him who had disembowelled many a purse. 
One night a demon went into his house, in the form of a man 
who wished to gamble, carrying under his arm a bag fluffed 
full with money, sat down at the table. Slaked his money 
boldly, threw the dice, and won. When he had gone on 
winning until the knight had no money left to Slake, the latter 
said angrily: “ Surely you muSt be the devil himself ! ” and 
the other replied : “ We have had enough now ; the dawn is 
near, and we muSl go.” Then he snatched him up, and 
dragged him through the roof so roughly, that his bowels were 
torn out by the broken tiles. What became of his body, or 

364 



Of Demons 


where it was thrown, is not known to this day, either by his 
son or by any of his acquaintances. But in the morning the 
remains of his entrails were found clinging to the tiles, and 
were buried in the cemetery. The devil allows his servants 
to prosper well enough in this world, but always betrays them 
in the end. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of a man who leapt from a tower in Soefl, trufling 
in the devil's aid, and was filled. 

To this same town, as was told me by Master Gozmar, a 
pious man, and canon of S. Patroclus, came a certain Granger, 
who said that he purposed to leap from the tower of S. Julian, 
which is very high, if some honour might be gained by it. 
The citizens, like sensible men, replied : “ We shall give you 
nothing for this, because it simply means that you will kill 
yourself.” Then he said : “ I shall do it for the honour of the 
town.” A great number of people collected in the market¬ 
place where the tower Stands, and many others looked on from 
the windows of the neighbouring houses, while he went up the 
tower. Then somebody cried out from behind: “ Tell me, 
my good sir, what demon are you employing to help you in 
this?” and when he had given the name of some demon, the 
other called : “You may be perfectly certain that he will 
deceive you, for he is a thorough rascal. If you were to truSt 
yourself to Oliver, he would not betray you, because he is a 
responsible demon, and knows how to keep faith.” The 
other answered : “lam quite sure my demon will not deceive 
me, because I have often had experience of his faithfulness.” 
I think that this Oliver was the same of whom we spoke above 
in the fourth chapter. To make the Story short, the man 
climbed the tower, leapt from it, came to the ground, and lay 
Still where he fell. The crowd wondered why he did not get 

365 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


up, for they thought that the ample cloak he was wearing 
to catch the wind would have saved him from injury ; then 
some drew near and lifted him up, and found that all his 
bowels had gushed out. See how the devil rewards his 
servants, both by killing their bodies and by thrusting down 
their souls to eternal pains. You will hear enough about 
their torments in the twelfth book. 

Novice .—If we may judge from what is said of this Oliver, 
it would seem that all demons are not equally malicious. 

Mon \.—In those, who in heaven cherished the moft intense 
pride and envy againft the Creator, there flourishes even now 
the bittereft eagerness to do harm. It is said that some simply 
consented to join the others who with Lucifer rebelled against 
God, and while these fell with the reft:, yet they are less evil, 
and do men less harm, as the following example will make 
clear. 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Of a demon who in human form was a faithful 
servant to a \night. 

A demon once took the form of a respectable young man 
and went to a knight and offered himself as a servant. The 
latter being much taken both with his appearance and manner 
of speech, gladly accepted the offer ; and forthwith the 
demon began his service so diligently and respectfully, so 
faithfully and willingly, that the knight was pleased beyond 
all expectation. Never did he mount his horse, nor descend 
from it, but he found him always ready to hold the ftirrup 
on bended knee ; and always and in all things he showed 
himself full of discretion, foresight and cheerfulness. 

One day they were riding together, and had come to the 
bank of a great river, when the knight, looking back, saw a 
number of his mortal enemies in pursuit, and said to his 

3 66 



Of Demons 


servant: “ We are dead men. See, my enemies are hastening 
after me, the river bars the way before us, and there is no 
way of escape. They will either kill me, or take me prisoner.” 
The other answered: “ Sir, have no fear ; I know well a 
ford of this river ; only follow me, and we shall easily 
escape.” The knight objected that no man had ever forded 
that river at that point, but nevertheless in the hope of escape 
he followed his servant, and came safe to the other side. As 
soon as they were safely across, the enemy reached the bank, 
and said in wonder : “ Who ever heard of a ford on this 
river? none but the devil could have carried him across ; ” 
and they went home in fear. Later it happened that the 
knight’s wife fell sick with a mortal illness ; and when all the 
skill of the physicians proved useless, the demon said to his 
master : “ If my lady would allow herself to be anointed with 
the milk of a lioness, she would be cured at once. ” When 
the knight said : “ Where can such milk be got? ” he replied: 
“ I will get it.” He went away, and came back in an hour, 
bringing with him a vessel full of milk. The lady was 
anointed with this, and immediately grew better, and soon 
recovered all her former Strength. Then the knight asked 
him where he had got the milk so quickly, and he said: “ I 
got it in the mountains of Arabia. When I left you, I went 
to Arabia, entered a lion’s cave, drove away the cubs, milked 
the lioness, and came back.” Stupified by such a reply, 
the knight said: “ Who are you then ? ” but he answered: 
“ Do not trouble yourself about that ; for I am juft your 
serving man.” The knight persifted, and at laft the servant 
confessed: “I am a demon, one of those who fell with 
Lucifer.” Then his mafter, more aftounded than ever : 
“ If you are a devil by nature, how do you come to serve a 
man so faithfully?” The demon answered: “It is my 
greatest consolation to be with the sons of men.” Then said 
the knight: “ But I do not dare to use your service any 
longer ” ; and he replied : “ Be quite sure of this ; that, if 
you keep me, no harm shall ever come to you through me or 
because of me.” “ No, I do not dare,” said the other,” but 
anything that you like to ask as a reward, I will gladly give 
you, even to the half of my property. Never did man serve 

367 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


man so well and faithfully ; it was by your providing that 
I escaped death at the river ; and it was through you that my 
wife recovered her health.” Then the demon said: “ Since 
I may no longer be with you, I ask nothing for my service 
except only five gold pieces.” When he had received these, 
he gave them back to the knight with these words: “ I beg 
that with this money you will buy a bell, and hang it over 
the roof of that poor forsaken church, that at leaft by it the 
faithful may be invited to the divine office each Sunday ; ” 
and he saw him no more. 

Novice .—Who could have expedled any such conduct: from 
a demon? 

Monk -—I will give you another example of devilish kind¬ 
ness, if I may call it so, which will surprise you no less than 
this. 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Of a demon who carried the knight Everard to 
Jerusalem. 

In the year in which king Philip rose up again?! Otto, who 
was afterwards crowned Emperor, a certain honourable 
knight, named Everard, a native of the town of Amel, fell 
grievously sick. As the result of some disease of the brain, 
he fell into such madness, that his own wife, whom he had 
dearly loved before his sickness, he now held in the greatest 
abhorrence, and could not bear to look upon her nor hear 
the sound of her voice. 

One day a demon in the shape of a man appeared to the 
sick man, and said: “ Everard, do you wish to be separated 
from your wife ? ” and when he answered that he desired it 
more than anything, the demon continued : “ I will take you 
to Rome on my horse, and we shall easily obtain a divorce 
for you from the pope.” Put briefly, it seemed to the knight 

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Of Demons 


that he mounted the other's horse as invited, that he went to 
Rome with him, sitting on the crupper, that he made his 
petition, and that the pope in the presence of the cardinals, 
separated him from his wife, and confirmed the divorce with 
bulls and pontifical letters. 

Strange to tell, from the hour that the spirit of the sick 
man was thus miraculously carried away by the demon, his 
body lay on the bed, pale and bloodless, but with juft enough 
warmth perceptible in his breaft as to cause them to defer his 
burial. 

When the knight seemed to be rejoicing too much over 
the divorce, the demon asked: “ Would you like me now 
to take you to Jerusalem, where your Lord was crucified 
and buried, and to the other sacred places, which Chriftians 
long to see? ” It was from these words chiefly that the 
knight afterwards guessed that he was a demon. He replied 
that this was what he desired above all things, and Straight¬ 
way the spirit carried his spirit across the sea, and set him 
down in the church of the Holy Sepulchre. Then he showed 
him the other holy places, and when the knight had made 
his due devotions in each, the demon asked : “ Would you 
like now to see your enemy Sephadin and his army? ” he 
answered “ Yes,” and was carried in a moment to the camp, 
where the demon pointed out the king and his princes, his 
knights, engines of war, Standards, tents and whole army. 
After this the demon said: “ Would you like now to return 
home? ” and he replied: “ Yes, it is full time that I went 
back.” Forthwith the spirit lifted him up, and having trans¬ 
ported him to Lombardy, pointed out a wood, and said: 
“ Look there is a man drawing near to that wood, with an 
ass laden with merchandise that he is bringing to sell here ; 
and there are robbers lying in wait to kill him ; he comes 
from your neighbourhood, would you like to warn him? ” 
“ Indeed I would,” said he, and ran quickly to the traveller 
and told him how robbers were waiting for him in the wood. 
The other joyfully greeted his neighbour, who was well 
known to him, thanked him, and went round by another way. 
When they came to Frankfort, the demon said again: “ Do 
you know Waleram, the son of the duke of Limburg? ” “ I 

369 


24 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


know him very well,” was the reply, “ and have often made 
campaigns with him ” ; the demon asked : “ Would you 
like to see him now P ” and the knight replied: “ But surely 
he is overseas ” ; the other said : “ Not at all ; but he is now 
in such a place, allied with king Philip, and is planning to 
devastate your country with fire and sword.” We saw this 
fulfilled, when, under that leader, Andernach, Remagen, Bonn 
and many other towns were plundered and burnt. When 
the knight had received this heavy news with pain, and had 
been shown the king and the princes and Waleram, his spirit 
was brought back uninjured to his body, which was Still lying 
upon the bed. 

His normal life was soon restored, and he quickly grew 
Strong and vigorous, and his wife, whom he had hated before 
he was carried away, he now loved again with all the old 
affedion ; and all men wondered when he told the tales of 
what he had seen and heard. For he retained a vivid recol- 
ledion of all that he had seen in Rome and at Jerusalem, in 
Lombardy and Germany, both places and persons ; he remem¬ 
bered them all as clearly as he had seen them, indeed more 
clearly than if he had looked upon them only with the eyes 
of the body. The Structure of the city of Rome, the Statue 
of the lord pope Innocent, the appearance of the cardinals, 
and of the churches ; and in the Holy Land, the person of 
Sephadin, and his army ; and so too the mountains, rivers 
and caStles, and the general view of all the countries over 
which he had passed ; all these he described so accurately 
in their appearance and by their names, that those who had 
seen any of them with the bodily eye could find nothing to 
contradid. Meanwhile his fellow countryman had returned 
from Lombardy with the profits of his merchandise, and 
testified in the presence of many, how he had seen him there, 
and how his warning had saved him from the peril of robbers. 

Novice .—I have heard that some demons are of such a 
nature that they even turn towards good those who are 
possessed by them, and will not suffer them to sin. 

Mon \.—I remember to have heard an example that gives 
a proof of this. 


370 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER XXXVIII. 

Of a demon who would not allow a man possessed 
by him to tafie of a theft in the fifth generation. 

A certain rich man made a banquet for the poor as an 
aft of almsgiving. Among the guests there was one who 
was possessed ; and while the reft were eating flesh, this 
man raised indeed the meat to his lips, but could not eat it. 
Some of those present spoke then to the demon : “ Why, 
villain, do you not suffer the man to eat? ” To whom he 
replied: “ I do not want him to sin by eating what comes 
from robbery.” When they cried out: ‘‘You lie, because 
the giver of this feaft is a man of integrity,” he replied: “ I 
do not lie ; that veal which is now being divided among the 
poor is derived in the fifth generation from a cow that was 
ftolen ; ” and all marvelled at these words. 

Novice. —If demons look upon a theft as ftill a theft after 
five generations, I think they will punish a direft theft with 
very bitter pains. 

Mon\. —That is undoubted. Remember that heifer, by 
whom and on whom the knight Elias was punished, as was 
told in the seventh chapter of the second book. This heifer 
calls to my memory what was said by the obsessed woman 
in Brisach, of whom I made mention above in the twenty- 
sixth chapter. One day she saw John, the burgrave of 
Rheineck, and, as I was told by one who was present, cried 
out againft him in the public ftreet: “ That calf that you took 
from such a widow, we shall diftil in the flames of hell, and 
put it into your eyes drop by drop, and we shall pour all its 
fat over your body. And the wine which is sold in this 
town under your sign, we shall pour boiling into your mouth.” 
The knight was terrified by these words, gave up his shop, 
and reftored her calf to the widow. 

Novice. —It is clear enough to me now that there are 
demons, that they are many, and that they are malicious. 
May I hear some examples that show they are hoftile to usr 

Mon\. —They are so hoftile to man, that they sow discord 

371 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


between friends, and do not allow enemies to be reconciled. 
They keep back those who wish to go on pilgrimage for 
Chrift’s sake and for their sins. They turn aside those who 
desire to be converted, and trouble and hinder in many ways 
those who are converted. 


CHAPTER XXXIX. 

Of a demon who tried to sow discord between two 
friends who were on pilgrimage together. 

Two rich and honourable citizens of Cologne, very close 
friends, set out together on a pilgrimage to S. James of Com- 
poStella ; their names were SiStappus and Godfrey. One 
day when they were riding together behind all the others, 
a demon, envying their friendship and affection, waited for 
them at the entrance of a wood, and broke in half a heavy 
Stick which Godfrey was carrying slung over his back. Tie 
looked round, and seeing that they were alone, turned to his 
companion, much disturbed: “Eh? brother, why have you 
broken my Stick? ” The other denied with an oath that he 
had done any such thing ; and Godfrey, as he told me him¬ 
self, was so angry that he could scarcely restrain his hands 
from assaulting him. At length he was restored to his good 
sense by the grace of God, and the merits of the blessed 
apoStle ; and confessed his regret to his beloved friend, and 
the demon, the source of all the trouble, Red away in confusion. 


372 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER XL. 

Also of a demon who in the guise of a priefl con¬ 
duced a {night through a place full of thorns and 
so made the two into enemies. 

An honourable prieSt, now a monk in our Order, told me 
how a vicar of a small town, wishing to make himself popular 
with his parishioners, used to play games with them, frequent 
taverns, and conform to their habits in every possible way. 
Now there was in the same town a knight, a fellow country¬ 
man, who was his companion in all his follies, and they were 
of one heart and one mind, not in Christ, but in the world. 
They often invited each other to games and to feaSts, and 
often dragged each other to the taverns. 

When the devil, the contriver of all misunderstanding, saw 
this, he resolved to change their worldly friendship into more 
perilous enmity ; and one night when the soldier had gone 
to bed, he came to him in the guise of the prieSt, and urged 
him eagerly both by words and signs to go with him. The 
knight, in great excitement, got up, and with bare feet and 
very little clothing went after the seeming prieSt, and was 
taken over a field full of thorns and brambles. His feet 
were soon torn and bleeding, and he cried out angrily after 
the demon : “ Rogue of a prieSt, to your own hurt you have 
brought me here.” Meanwhile the demon kept calling to 
him, “ Come on, come on,” and the angry knight, picking 
up a hoe, which by accident lay in his path, clove the skull, 
as he thought, of the prieSt, and left him lying there, with 
his face covered with blood. Then with great toil and pain, 
the knight got back to his house, and grumbled to his wife, 
household and friends of the way in which the prieSt had 
mocked him ; and when they refused to believe, he added : 
“ Well, I gave him a bad wound on his tonsured skull.” 

That same night the prieSt, knowing nothing of all this, 
on his way to his bedroom, Struck his head againSt the lintel 
of a door, and cut his crown so badly that his face was covered 
with blood. He went to bed ; and in the morning, when 


373 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


the bell rang for mass, the people waited in vain in the church 
for the pries'!, who could not come owing to the pain of his 
wound. When the knight was told of this, he underflood 
the cause at once, and said: “ That is juft what I told you.” 
Why say more? The prieft continued to deny the ftory 
emphatically, and his friends and relations only grew the 
more angry and would not believe him, and for two years he 
was driven out of his church, and only with great difficulty 
was he reconciled to them again at laft. From these two 
examples you may see how demons sow discord between 
friends, whether the bond between them be spiritual or 
worldly ; and it is juft as certain that they have great power 
in preventing enemies from becoming friends. 


CHAPTER XLI. 

Of a demon who said that he had sowed discord 
between a knight and a monastery . 

Not long ago a certain knight was harassing moft unjuftlv 
a house of our Order. When a demon was chattering through 
the mouth of a certain obsessed woman, one of the byftanders 
said to him: “ Tell me, O full of all iniquity, why you do 
not persuade that knight to leave the servants of God in 
peace? ” To whom the devil replied with a grin: “What 
are you saying, O full of all foolishness ? The whole trouble 
has been set on foot by my plans, and are you advising me 
to persuade them to peace? ” Moreover, that they discourage 
and prevent those who wish to go on pilgrimage for the sake 
of Chrift, here is an example. 


374 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER XLII. 

Of the \night Mengoz, who was dragged along the 
pavement by a demon. 

A knight named Mengoz went to France as a young man 
to learn the language, and there fell grievously sick ; and 
in hope of recovery, he made a vow of pilgrimage to S. 
Remigius at Rheims, but when he got better, he returned 
to his own country without carrying it out. After some 
time, another noble knight named Guldolph, of the town 
of Sevelen, proposed to take ship and go to Citeaux at the 
time of the general Chapter, and Mengoz, hearing of this, 
asked to be allowed to go with him as a fellow-pilgrim. He 
accepted with pleasure, and they came to a town called 
Tncaster, near Dijon, and had sat down on the ground for 
their meal, after the manner of penitents, when there appeared 
S. Remigius, bishop of Rheims, robed in pontificals, who 
said: “ Mengoz, why have you not performed your vow? ” 
At this the knight was greatly troubled, both by the vision 
and by the remembrance of his unfulfilled vow, when a demon 
flew up to him, and added to the warning of the saint such 
words of dissuasion as these: “ There is no hurry, you will 
of course pay your vow when you can.” Then without 
further words, the demon seized the man by the foot, and 
dragged him face downwards along the pavement so merci¬ 
lessly, that his face was cut in four places, and the ground 
bespattered with his blood. Now when Guldolph saw his 
friend dragged along in this fashion, and could see no cause 
nor any that dragged, he got up from his place in much 
anxiety to go to his help, and, as he told me himself, though 
he seized the other with both arms, he could not hold him 
only with greatest difficulty, Strong as he was, and Slill is. 
When Mengoz told him both of his fault and its punishment, 
he said: “ 1 advise you to fulfil your vow ” ; and when his 
friend went on to say that he had not money enough for the 
expenses, he handed over to him what was necessary, and 
the negledted vow was fulfilled. 


375 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice .—As I see it, there are demons not far from us, 
and always ready to punish us. 

Mon \.—That they are always near us and about us you 
shall learn from the following Story. 


CHAPTER XLIII. 

Of a demon who guarded a vineyard for a reward. 

LaSt year, at the time of the vintage, the cellarer of Laach 
entrusted to two serving men the care of the vineyard of one 
of the monastery farms. One night, one of them, wishing 
to ease himself of his nightly watch, called upon the devil 
in a jeSting sort of way, saying: “ Come, devil, if you will 
watch over this vineyard for me, I will give you a reward.” 
Scarcely had he uttered the words, when a demon appeared 
and said: “ Here I am, what will you give me to look after 
it? ” He replied : “ A box full of grapes, but on this con¬ 
dition, that if anyone comes in between nightfall and dawn, 
you will break his neck, not excepting anyone, either myself 
or anybody else.” The devil made the promise, and the 
servant, as if free of the vineyard, went back to the house, 
late in the evening ; but the cellarer saw him and asked: 
“ Why are you not in the vineyard ? ” and when he answered : 
“ I have left my companion there,” alluding to the demon, 
the cellarer, thinking that he meant his fellow servant, retorted 
angrily : “ Go back this minute, one is not enough.” The 
man returned, and climbed up with his companion into the 
watch tower, which was outside the vineyard. About mid¬ 
night they heard a movement as of a man walking between 
the vines, and he, who knew nothing of the aforesaid compact, 
said: “ There is somebody in the vineyard,” and the other 
replied : “ Stay where you are ; I will go down and see.” 
He went down and walked round the vineyard on the out¬ 
side, and when he could find no traces of anyone within 

376 



Of Demons 


the hedge, he understood that it was his caretaker that was 
there. In the morning he told the whole Story to his comrade, 
and wishing to give the demon his reward, he filled a box 
with grapes, and put it down beside a vine ; then he went 
away, and came back in a little while with his comrade, and 
found not a grape Stone left. 

Novice .—These things are wonderful enough, but I beg 
you to show me how they obstruct those who are desirous of 
being converted. 

Mon !{.—-I will tell you what was told me by a nun, under 
compulsion from her abbess. 


CHAPTER XL1V. 

Of the nun Euphemia, who was greatly persecuted 
by a demon. 

When this nun was a little girl in her father’s house, a 
demon used often to appear to her under different forms and 
terrified and saddened her childhood in many ways, to such 
an extent, that she feared to be driven mad, and openly 
expressed her wish to be received as a novice in our Order. 
One night he appeared to her in human form, and tried to 
dissuade her from taking the vows, saying: “ Euphemia, do 
not be converted, but take inffead a young and comely 
husband, so that with him you may enjoy the pleasures of 
the world, for you shall have abundance of cosily clothes 
and delicate food. But if you enter the Order, you will 
always be ragged and wretched, you will be a prey to hunger 
and thirff: and cold, and you will never have any happiness 
in this life.” To this she replied: “ What will become of 
me at the end, if I die in the midft of those pleasures that 
you promise me? ” To this the devil made no reply, but 
seized the girl, and dragging her to the window of the upper 
room where she slept, tried to throw her down ; but when 


377 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


she repeated the angelic salutation, the enemy let her go, 
and said: “ If you go to the convent, I will never cease from 
persecuting you ; ” and when he had said this, he pinched 
the maiden roughly, changed himself into the shape of an 
enormous dog, leapt out of the window and disappeared ; 
and thus by the invocation of the Virgin Mother of God, 
the virgin was set free. How hostile the devil is to the 
converted, and in how many ways he harasses and impedes 
them will be shown by what follows. When this girl had 
become a nun, and was one night lying awake in her bed, 
she saw around her several demons in human shape. One 
of them, of hideous aspect, ftood at her head, and two at her 
feet, and a fourth at her side ; and this laft cried in a loud 
voice to the others: “Why are you hesitating? Take her 
up juft as she lies, and come.” They replied : “ We cannot 
do it ; for she has invoked that woman.” 

Novice .—How is it that demons can presume to speak 
of the Mother of their Creator by a name expressive only of 
condition and not of honour? “Woman” is a name of 
natural corruption only ; “ Virgin ” or “ Mary ” or “ Mother 
of God,” these are names of glory. 

Mon\. —Because of their unworthiness they do not dare to 
utter with polluted mouth a name of honour or glory. And 
yet, even after the utterance of the angelic salutation, this 
same demon ftill dragged at the girl’s right arm, and in 
dragging pinched her so much that her arm was swollen 
and bruised. Her left arm was free, but in her simplicity, 
she did not dare to cross herself with it, thinking that to 
make the holy sign with the left hand would be of no avail ; 
nevertheless, driven by necessity, she did at laft cross herself 
with that hand, and so put the demons to flight. As soon 
as she was delivered from them, she ran half fainting to the 
bed of another sifter, and breaking the rule of silence, told 
her all that she had seen and suffered. Then the sifters, as 
was told me by the lady Elizabeth of blessed memory, who 
was the abbess of that convent, put her back to bed, and read 
over her the opening of S. John’s gospel, and in the morning 
found her completely recovered. One ftormy night in the 
following year, when this nun was lying awake in her bed, 

378 



Of Demons 


she saw at some distance two demons in the form of the two 
sifters she loved beft, and they said to her, “ Sifter Euphemia, 
get up and come with us into the cellar that we may draw 
the convent beer. She had felt suspicious of them, both 
because of the unusual hour, and because they had broken 
the rule of silence ; and now terror overcame her, and she 
covered her head with the bed clothes and made no answer. 
Forthwith one of the evil spirits came near, and laid his hand 
upon her breaft, pressing it with so much violence, that 
blood was driven out in great quantities through her mouth 
and nose ; both demons then took the form of dogs and 
leapt out of the window. When the sifters got up for matins, 
and saw her weak and ill, pale and bloodless, they enquired 
of her by signs the reason of it; and when she had told them 
all the ftory, they were as much troubled by the cruelty of 
the demons as by the suffering of the maiden. Two years 
before this, when a new dormitory had been built at the 
convent, and beds placed in it, the same nun saw a demon, 
in the shape of an old and very much deformed dwarf, go 
round all the dormitory, and touch each bed, as if to say : “I 
will mark diligently the place of each, for they shall not he 
left unvisited.” 

Novice .—Can you tell me why the merciful Lord allows 
maidens so gentle and pure to be thus cruelly persecuted by 
foul and merciless spirits? 

Mon \.—After tailing a bitter cup, the sweet, as you your¬ 
self know, is ftill more sweet, and when a black colour is 
removed, the white shines more brightly. Read the visions 
of Witin, Gotteschalk and others, who have been allowed 
to see the pains of the wicked, and the glory of the eledl, 
and you will see that, almoft in every case, the vision of hell 
comes firft. The Lord, wishing to show to His spouse the 
hidden glories of His happiness, suffers her firft to be tempted 
with dreadful visions, that afterwards she may be the more 
able to rejoice, and to know the gulf that lies between sweet 
and bitter, between light and darkness. 


379 



The Dialogue on Miracles 
CHAPTER XLV. 

How the nun Elisabeth was persecuted by a demon. 

In the same convent, which is called Hoven, there is a nun 
named Elisabeth, who is often persecuted by a demon. One 
day seeing him in the dormitory, she gave him a box on the 
ear being well aware that it was he. When he asked her 
why she Struck him so cruelly, she replied: “ Because you 
often trouble me.” Then he said: “ YeSterday I troubled 
your siSter, the singer, a great deal more, but she did not 
Strike me ; and indeed this siSter had been greatly harassed 
on that day. From this we may gather that anger, rancour, 
impatience and other similar faults, are put into the heart 
by the devil. Another time matins were very late, owing 
to the devil’s adtion, as was afterwards clear, and Elisabeth, 
with a lighted candle in her hand, was hastening to ring the 
bell, and as she was about to enter the oratory, she saw a 
demon, in the guise of a man wearing a slashed doublet, 
Standing in front of her. Thinking that some man muSt 
have got in, she fell back in terror down the dormitory Steps, 
so that she was ill for some days afterwards, from the sudden 
shock as well as from the fall ; and the abbess herself was 
so much distressed by this mishap, that she too fell sick. 
When they asked Elisabeth the reason of her fall and outcry, 
she told them of the vision, and added : “ If I had known 
it was a demon and not a man, I would have given him a 
good box on the ear ! ” so had she girded her loins with 
flrength, and Erengthened her arms (Prov. xxxi. 17 .) againSt 
the devil. 


CHAPTER XLVI. 

Of a recluse, who was delivered from a demon by 
the Benedicite. 

A woman, who had become a recluse for Christ’s sake, 
was so relentlessly attacked by a demon, that she could not 

380 



Of Demons 


be safe from him even in bed. When she found that she 
could not free herself from this importunity by any spiritual 
means, neither by prayer, nor confession, nor the sign of the 
cross, she told her trouble to a certain pious man, who gave 
her the following advice : “ When the demon comes to you,” 
he said, “ simply say to him Benedicite.” The next time 
he came, she did this; and the evil spirit, as if driven by a 
whirlwind, sprang away from her at once, nor ever again 
dared to approach her. 

Novice .—I rejoice to hear that there is so great power in 
our cuflomary greeting. 

Mon \.—So great is the malice of demons, that they will 
seduce with fantastic visions those whom they cannot lead 
affray or break with their terrors. For example: 


CHAPTER XLVI1. 

0/ the recluse Bertradis. 

Near the caStle of VolmarStein, in Westphalia, lived a 
recluse, named Bertradis, a pious and saintly woman, and of 
great repute, owing to the revelations with which God had 
enlightened her. For a long time, as a result, 1 was told, of 
a lack of discretion, she had received an angel of darkness 
thinking him to be an angel of light. Now the demon, 
surrounded with a fantastic splendour, was wont to come to 
her through a window of her cell, and give her information 
about future events, and answer her questions. And if any 
came to her, desiring to know the condition of a dead friend, 
or to be assured about some incertitude, she asked them to 
wait till next morning, and consulted her angel ; she was 
often deceived by him, and gave false answers, thinking them 
true. Now when this came to the knowledge of brother 
Herman, the recluse of Arnsberg, of whom I made mention 
in the 87 th chapter of the laSt book, since he was not ignorant 

381 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


of the wickedness of demons, he gave this advice to Bertradis: 
“ Be careful, my sifter, because the messenger of Satan often 
transforms himself into an angel of light, seduces many and 
sometimes mocks even the holieft of men. Do then as I 
tell you: make a cross of wax that has been blessed, and fix 
it upon the ledge of the window by which he enters ; if on 
his entrance he does not avoid it, he is an angel of the Lord ; 
but if otherwise, he is a messenger of the devil.” Accordingly 
she did this, and in the night the demon came to the window 
with his usual glitter, and when he looked in but would not 
enter and the woman asked him why he did not come in, 
he replied: “ I cannot come in, unless you throw away this 
wax from the window ” ; then she underftood how she had 
been deceived for a long time, spat at him, and broke out 
into abuse, and adjured him by the Holy Trinity that he 
should never presume to come again. Do you see now how 
Almighty God has devised different medicines againft the 
different attacks of demons ? He keeps some from us by the 
antidote of confession, others by the words of the Lord’s 
annunciation, to wit, the Ave Maria, some by the word Bene- 
dicite and many by the sign of the Cross ; and of all these you 
have had illuftrations above. 

Novice .—Did this recluse sin, in taking the angel of dark¬ 
ness for the angel of light? 

Mon \.—I have read in the writings of our fathers, that 
a man so deceived by the devil is deserving of reward for 
believing him so long as he persuades him to what is good ; 
for the discerning of spirits is not given to all. Wherefore 
the Apoftle says: Prove the spirits whether they be of God 
(i John iv. i). I ought also to add that the messenger of 
Satan does not only transform himself into an angel of light 
by assuming such splendours, but also often appears to some 
under vile forms, for he is accuftomed to show himself to 
men for their deception, sometimes in the form of a dog or 
a pig, or again in the form of a bear or a cat or any other 
animal. 


382 



Of Demons 


CHAPTER XLVIII. 

Of a lay-brother who saw a demon bring phantasms 
into the choir. 

Once in Hemmenrode a devil was seen to bring a herd 
of swine into the church, and afterwards to take them out 
again in the same way in which he brought them in. At 
another time a certain lay-brother, who does not wish his 
name to be mentioned, saw a demon take the form of the 
prior and he was wearing on his neck a sort of collar made 
out of a bean Stalk. One of his fellows went before him 
leading him by the collar as if he were a dog ; and while 
they passed along the choir in this Strange procession, it 
happened that the prior himself came into the church in order 
to arouse the lay-brothers if he should find any sleeping ; 
and as soon as he entered that fantastic vision vanished from 
the eyes of the lay-brother. 


CHAPTER XLIX. 

Of the visions of the precentor Herman. 

Once when Herman our precentor, of blessed memory, 
was Standing in the choir when lauds were being sung one 
bright day in summer he had closed his eyes for a moment 
from weariness, and when he opened them again he saw what 
seemed to him the hindquarters of a bear going out from the 
choir. And while he was wondering greatly at this vision, 
he saw the same bear return and Stop before the presbytery, 
in the place where the monks are wont to proStrate them¬ 
selves on their way in and out of church. The animal turned 
his head round and looked this way and that and then spoke 
in a human voice: “ No matter. It happens that they are 
devout for the moment, so I will go away and come back 

383 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


presently.” And as he watched, the creature went out. 
Brother Richard is a witness of this vision for he told it him 
at once. This is that same Herman who saw the jars of wine 
before Henry Fikere and the bear, as was told in chapter 
ninety-one of the fourth book. 

Novice. —If the devil assumes animal forms of this kind 
for our hurt, I imagine that he mud mock very grossly those 
who give way to his suggestions. 

Mon\. —That is mod certain. 


CHAPTER L. 

Of a recluse who saw demons upon the shoulders of 
the mon\s of Burscheid. 

A certain recluse is Still living at Aix ; she is well known 
to me, but I will not mention her name, because if I did she 
might suffer for it. Before her seclusion while she was Still 
a girl, and was Still wearing secular dress although a Religious, 
she used to see demons under the forms of apes and cats, 
sitting upon the shoulders of monks of Burscheid, as they 
walked to and fro from their church. And because some of 
them were held captive by consent of their vices, in whatever 
diredion and at whatever person these phantoms looked, 
the eyes of the monks followed them, and their gestures 
imitated the frivolities of the demons. She saw something 
too, dill more horrible: there were some before whom great 
and hideous dogs went in such a way, that the chains which 
could be seen round their necks passed also round the necks 
of the monks, and by them they were dragged to share in 
the gambols of the demons. 

Novice. —Alas ! that men created in the image and like¬ 
ness of God, and even raised above ordinary men by the 
dignity of the Order, so that they ought to have dominion 

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Of Demons 


over unclean spirits, should, owing to their evil life, be thus 
vilely mocked by them. 

Monf{. —This is what the Psalmift sadly says: Man will 
not abide in honour, seeing he may be compared to the beatts 
that perish ; this is the way of them. 

Novice. —From what you have said above it seems to me 
that man often gives the devil opportunity for tempting 
him. 

Monl{. —This is indeed true. I will show you an example. 


CHAPTER LI. 

Of a mon\ who shirked the labour of planting 
cabbages and was immediately tempted by the 
devil under the form of a woman. 

Once the whole community of Hemmenrode was collefted 
in the garden planting cabbages. Among them there was 
a certain monk named Thomas, in whose heart thoughts like 
these began to rise : “ If you were only in your father’s house 
your very maid-servant would not condescend to such work 
as this.” And thereupon in anger he left his brethren, and 
the spirit of pride led him to a place where he might attack 
him the more fiercely. When he found himself alone in the 
wood, the tempter appeared, and him whom he had attacked 
before only in thought now he assaulted with undisguised 
and visible onslaught. For he appeared to him under the 
form of a woman and began to speak to him. But he, laying 
his finger upon his lips signed to her that it was not permitted 
to him to speak. Then the head and father of all lies replied 
through that phantasmal woman, whom he had fashioned to 
deceive him: “ I do not know how that may be,” she said, 
“ but I have juft come from the convent and the prior gave me 
leave to speak with you.” He believed her, and broke his 
rule of silence. Then she told him that his parents had sent 

385 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


for him and that he was to go with her to Treves to buy a 
horse, and so make the journey to his own home. Thereupon 
the miserable creature going before him drew after her the 
miserable man ; she indeed passing through all the close 
thickets of undergrowth quite easily, while he followed with 
very great difficulty. At length disturbed by the roughness 
of the way and the severity of the toil, he said: “In the 
name of the Father why are we journeying thus? ” No 
sooner had he said this than that evil spirit vanished ; and 
although the weather had been calm and pleasant till then, 
there suddenly arose at that moment a great wind and Storm 
of rain, and he returned to the convent outwardly wet through, 
and inwardly filled with confusion. He confessed afterwards 
that so long as that woman was walking before him he had 
felt great temptations of the flesh. 

Novice .—I think that it muSt have been an unclean spirit. 

Monk -—You are right. For sin is often punished by 
more sin, and in many mental pride is humbled by some 
lapse in the flesh. You have many examples of this in 
Vitaspatrum. 

Novice .—Can the devil harm a man juSt as he wills? 

Monk -—Certainly not ; never at all without God’s per¬ 
mission, and then only in the body as in the case of Job. 
Never can he injure a man in the soul, i.e. never can he 
induce him to sin unless the man consents in his heart. 


CHAPTER LII. 

How the devil is like a lion bound to a flake. 

The devil is like a lion or a bear fastened to a Stake, which 
can growl around within the range of his chain, but cannot 
injure anyone unless he catch that person within the circle. 
The power of the devil is so limited by the chain of Divine 
constraint, that he cannot compel anyone to sin, unless a man 

386 



Of Demons 


comes to him, moved to the sin by his own consent. Accord¬ 
ing to the ApoSlle Peter, He goes about like a roaring lion 
within the range of his chain, seeding whom he may devour 
(i Pet. v. 8). Often enough he terrifies and troubles even 
holy men, but he cannot do them harm. 


CHAPTER UII. 

Of a canon of Bonn who was tempted by him. 

In the cathedral of Bonn, as I heard from his fellow canons 
there was a certain canon, of a pure and deeply religious 
life, to whom the devil was so hostile that often at night, 
when he was about to read the lesson at matins, he would 
cover over the letters or turn the page or sometimes would 
blow out the light. He did this to bring confusion on the 
holy man in the presence of his brethren, and by this con¬ 
fusion to provoke him to impatience ; and his malice is so 
great, that when he finds he cannot irritate or disturb the 
Religious, he at least mocks and provokes them. 


CHAPTER LIV. 

How he mocked the convent of Mt. St. Walburgis. 

A certain nun of our Order named Petrissa told me that one 
day at matins, on a certain festival, she was Standing a little 
removed from the other sifters while they were singing the 
Psalms with great heartiness, and she broke out herself into 
an a<5t of thanksgiving, saying: “ Blessed be Thou O Lord 
for that Thou rewarded this beloved convent which is prais¬ 
ing Thee so devotedly ” ; and immediately she heard a hateful 
noise as of one hastening from behind her to the convent, 
and saying with a loud voice : “ This shall be done for God,” 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


making a mock of her thanksgiving. And forthwith all the 
hairs of her head Stood on end. 

Novice. —Often has sudden horror come upon me both 
in the choir and in other places. What do you think is the 
meaning of such terrors? 

Mon\. —They come from the presence of demons. There 
is a dog which is called a wolf-dog and his nature is of such 
a kind, that he can tell when a wolf is near without seeing 
him with his eyes ; and because there is a natural antipathy 
between the animals, he immediately grows wild and breaks 
out into barking. So it is with man and the devil. The 
Lord has placed enmity between them ; and woe unto the 
man who makes peace with the demon, for always it shall 
bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel (Gen. iii. 15). 
And though the outer man may not see him, yet the inner 
man, i.e. the spirit perceives plainly enough the presence of 
that evil spirit. Why then should there be any wonder if 
at such a time the man is troubled and feels horror? How 
true this is I will show you by an example. 


CHAPTER LV. 

Of a priest whom the devil terrified as he went to 
church carrying a sword. 

Near Cologne there was a certain pried named Michael, a 
very religious man for his class. He was the redor of the 
churches of two small towns, one of which was named Burge, 
and the other Rode. Once at Eader after he had said matins 
rather late in one of the churches, and was hadening 
alone, as he had no servant, before daylight to the 

other, he carried with him a sword in fear of the 

dangers of the road. And when he came to a certain 
wood, so great fear and horror seized upon him that 

all his hair dood on end, as men say, and a cold sweat 

broke out on every limb. The cause of this horror did not 

388 



Of Demons 


long lie hid, because as soon as he turned his eyes to the wood 
he saw a man of hideous aspect {landing near a tall tree. And 
as he looked, this man grew suddenly so vail in size that his 
height was equal to that of the tree, and round him all the 
trees were crashing and there were fearful blails of wind. 
Terrified beyond measure, the prieft fled and was pursued by 
the devil with a whirlwind, even until he came to the town of 
Rode. Afterwards when this prieil was telling the {lory of 
his vision and his terror to the lay-brother of the mona&ery 
of Altberg, Richard by name, he, as a truly pious man, gave 
him a truly pious answer : “ Sir," he said, “ the Church would 
tell you, that if in going to the Divine Office you had taken 
a psalm into your mouth inflead of a sword into your hand, 
these things would not have happened on the road. That 
terror of yours was the penalty of sin ; for in truth the devil 
fears a psalm, not a sword (fob xli. 22, 24, 27, 33). 

Novice .—1 gather from these words of holy fob, that if the 
{Irength of the devil were not bound and limited, no man 
would be able to {land before him. 

Mon{. —That, however, he cannot injure a man, except so 
far as God permits him, I shall show you by a very dear 
example in the la{l chapter of this book. 


CHAPTER LVI. 

Of a bell-ringer whom the devil carried to the 
pinnacle of the CaSllc of Ysenberg. 

In a town called Amel, in the diocese of Cologne, it 
happened a few years ago that there was a bell-ringer living 
under the vow of a certain pilgrimage and he had agreed one 
day with a woman of the same town that they should make a 
{lart together the next morning ; and she asked him to ring 
for matins a little earlier than usual that they might set out 
before the sun grew too hot, and he promised to do this. That 

389 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


night the devil came to his bedside, shook him and said: 
“ King for matins,” and so went away. He immediately got 
up and saw a light burning in the church, but when he learnt 
that it was not yet cock-crow he thought that he had been 
aroused by the aforesaid woman and left the church meaning 
to tell her to go back to bed, because it was too early yet. He 
looked for her everywhere but could not find her, but noticed 
a black ox standing opposite him. This animal put out its 
tongue and with it took hold of the man and mounted him 
upon his back, flew through the air with him and set him 
down on a pinnacle of the tower of the caftle of Ysenberg. 
Then he said to the man: “ Are you afraid at all?” and the 
other replied: “ It is by God’s permission that you have been 
able to bring me here, and there is nothing that you can do 
againfi me except what He permits.” The devil said : “ Do 
me homage and I will set you down safely and also give you 
great riches ; but if you refuse you shall either die here by 
hunger or else be dashed to pieces by falling headlong.” To 
whom the bell-ringer, putting his truSf in Christ, replied I 
adjure you in the name of Jesus Christ to do me no injury, but 
to put me down without any harm to my body." Immedi¬ 
ately the devil took him and set him down very roughly in a 
field near the town of Gerresheim before the dawn of day, 
which day happened to be the anniversary of the dedication 
of the church of that town. At dawn, men hastening with 
torches to the service of matins found this bell-ringer in a field 
in a fainting condition ; and when they had revived him and 
had heard his Slory they were greatly aSlonished. On the 
fourth day indeed he returned to his house and related to all 
so fully the position both of the towns and buildings, which 
he had never seen before, that they could not doubt that he 
had been really carried away. 

Novice .-—I now admit that it has been clearly proved to 
me both by teaching and examples that there are demons, that 
they are many in number, and malicious and hoSlile to men. 

Mon \.—My chief advice is that now that we know of them, 
we give no sort of consent to them (Matt. xxv. 41), but rather 
by resisting them and all the vices they urge upon us, we may 
be blessed enough to hear with the elect (Matt. xxv. 34). 

390 



BOOK VI 


OF SINGLENESS OF HEART 


CHAPTER I. 

Of the virtue of simplicity. 

Among all the antidotes which the virtues offer againft the 
Stresses of temptation and again SI the demons who tempt, the 
pradice of simplicity seems to be the mod efficacious. This 
virtue is free from all gall of bitterness, from anger, envy and 
rancour ; it is also free from the poisoned eye of suspicion and 
from the dog-like tooth of detradion. Especially to the newly 
converted is simplicity necessary, because if a novice wish to 
find fault with the simplicity of the Order and to pass judg¬ 
ment upon the ads of his seniors and the regulations of our 
predecessors, and to be always disputing with his mafler as to 
the why and wherefore of everything, never will he have any 
peace. Wherefore the abbot Charles, when I was a novice, 
used often to say to me : “ Brother, if you wish to find peace in 
the Order, let the simplicity of the Order be enough for you.” 
Isaiah, admiring the virtue in the eled says Who are these that 
fly as a cloud and as the doves to their windows (Isaiah lx. 8). 
The windows of the doves are the eyes of simple-minded 
monks ; their flight is the uplifting of contemplation ; their 
dove-like appearance is the simplicity of their intention. Both 
eyes of the religious ought to be simple, both the outward and 
the inward ; the eye of the body, so that suspicion may be far 
from it ; the eye of the heart, so that its intention may be pure. 
This of itself turns an evil work into a good one, and conversely 
as I shall show you by a very clear example in the next chapter. 

391 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —Readily do I agree with that, because I remember 
that the Saviour said : if thine eye be single, thy whole body 
shall be full of light (Matt. vi. 22). 

Mon\. —In truth when the intention is single, it is necessary 
that clear adion should follow ; and so, on the contrary, an 
evil eye, i.e. an evil and perverse intention makes the whole 
body, i.e. the work full of darkness. Wherefore it seems well 
to treat of simplicity in the sixth book, because as six is by 
nature the perfed number, so this virtue, according to the 
Saviour’s words already quoted, makes the whole man full of 
light and perfed. We see the single-minded Jacob blessed 
by his father ; and his son the single-minded Joseph set over 
all Egypt by Pharaoh ; and the single-minded Job blessed by 
the Lord. Chrid preaches the virtue of simplicity to His 
disciples (Matt. x. 16 ; and Matt, xviii. 3). Simplicity is the 
road to God, pleasing to angels, and delightful to man. 
Wherefore, leaving for the moment all other virtues, I will 
show you by a few examples the marvellous efficacy of holy 
simplicity. 


CHAPTER II. 

Of a simple mon\, who, by eating flesh in a caflle 
rettored to his monattery its cattle. 

Dom Wido, a Cidercian abbot and afterwards a cardinal, 
was once sent to Cologne to confirm an eledion which had 
been made on behalf of Otto againd Philip, and brought back 
from thence a dory of holy simplicity both amusing and 
amazing. He said that a house of our Order was situated on 
the edates of a certain powerful noble, and this tyrant, who 
feared not God, neither regarded man, often vexed the mona- 
dery in various ways. He took of its corn, wine and cattle as 
much and as often as he pleased, and he left to the brethren 
jud as much as he chose. He aded in this way for so long 



Of Singleness of Heart 


that from habit his conduit became a sort of law, and the 
convent, after making many complaints to no purpose, gave 
up in despair and submitted ; but one day he carried off the 
greater part of their cattle and ordered them to be taken to his 
caStle. 

When this became known, the abbot and brethren were 
very much troubled and debated long what they ought to do. 
Finally they determined that someone should go to the caftle, 
at leaft to let the noble know what sort of a reward he was 
heaping up for himself, and if possible it should be the abbot. 
But he replied: “ I will not go, because we shall get no advan¬ 
tage from warning him, but shall only be beating the air.” 
When the prior and the cellarer had excused themselves in 
similar fashion, the abbot said : “ Is there anyone here who is 
willing to make this journey?” All were silent except one 
who was inspired from on high and promptly answered : “ Let 
that monk go,” mentioning by name an old brother of 
extremely simple charatffer. The monk was summoned ; was 
asked if he would go to the caftle on this errand ; he agreed 
and was despatched. 

As he went out of the room he said to the abbot in the great 
simplicity of his heart: “ Father, if he should offer to reffore 
me any portion of the herd, shall I accept or not ?” The abbot 
replied : “ If you can get anything back take it in the name of 
the Lord ; half a loaf is better than no bread.” 

He departed and came to the caftle, bringing to the tyrant 
the message of the abbot and brethren, together with their 
petition. The tyrant made a mock of his discourse and said 
scoffingly: “ Sir, wait a little until you have dined and then 
I will give you your answer.” At the dinner hour he was 
given a place at the common table and the ordinary food, to 
wit, flesh in abundance was set before him, as before the res'!. 
The holy man, remembering the words of his abbot and not 
doubting that the flesh so lavishly placed before him was a 
part of the monastery cattle, ate as much of the flesh as he 
could, that he might not break the law of obedience. 

The lord of the castle, who was sitting opposite with his 
wife, was much impressed that the monk should be eating 
flesh so heartily, and when dinner was over he called him 


393 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

aside and said : “ Tell me, good sir, is your convent accustomed 
to eat flesh?” When the other replied: “Certainly not"; 
the lord added: “ What do they do when they go outside?” 
“ Neither inside the convent,” said he, “ nor outside do they 
eat flesh.” Then the tyrant asked: “ Why then did you eat 
all this flesh to-day?” The monk answered: “When my 
abbot sent me here he ordered me to get back as much of our 
cattle as I could ; therefore I could not refuse. And because 
I felt sure that the meat set before me belonged to my mona¬ 
stery, and also because I feared that that would be all I could 
recover, viz, as much as I could take away through my teeth, 
I ate for the sake of obedience that I might not return wholly 
empty.” 

And because God does not reject the simple, neither will 
He help the evil doers (Job viii. 20), this noble, when he 
heard what the monk said, was moved by his simplicity, or 
rather by the Holy Spirit who spoke by the mouth of the old 
man, and recognised the warning and replied: “ Wait for 
me here ; I will go and take counsel with my wife as to what 
I shall do for you.” And when he came to her and told her 
in order the words of the old monk, he added: “ I fear the 
swift vengeance of God upon me, if I should now repel this 
man so simple and so upright.” She replied in similar 
fashion that she was also troubled by the same thought. 

Then he went back to the old man and said: “ Good 
father, for the sake of your holy simplicity which has moved 
me to pity, I will reStore to your monastery all that is Still left 
of your cattle, and so far as I can, I will give you satisfaction 
for all the injuries I have done you, and from this day I will 
never trouble you again. 

At these words the old man thanked him and returned 
joyfully to the monastery with the cattle, and to the great 
aflonishment of the abbot and the brethren repeated the words 
of the noble. From the peace that they enjoyed thencefor¬ 
ward they learnt by experience how great is the virtue of sim¬ 
plicity. See what an example you have of how an act, which 
is sometimes wrong in itself, may became good and full of 
light by reason of a single eye, i.e. a good intention. In truth 
this monk by eating flesh in the caStle would have sinned if 


394 



Of Singleness of Heart 


he had not been justified by simplicity. And the result 
showed not only that there was no sin in his adt, but even that 
it was meritorious. 

Novice. —Do they sin who, when monks are away from 
their convents, set before them meat or fat, or meat soup, and 
deceive them into eating by an artifice? 

Mon^.—I do not think they sin if they are impelled by the 
necessity of hospitality, or by the fervour of charity which is 
Still more worthy. The monk who eats is excused from sin 
by his ignorance or simplicity ; the hoSf, as I said, by his 
charity. Here is an example. 


CHAPTER III. 

Of Christian, the dean of Bonn, who in simplicity 
set before an abbot pulse cooked in lard. 

ChriStian, the dean of Bonn, of blessed memory, a man of 
upright life and great learning, died among us as a novice. 
He was a man moSt fervent in hospitality, and once invited 
Herman, the abbot of Hemmenrode, who had formerly been 
dean of the Holy ApoStles in Cologne, a man both learned 
and discreet, to dine with him. And since there was no food 
in his house that did not contain meat, he secretly ordered his 
servant to take out the pieces of bacon and to place the pulse 
thus treated before the abbot. While he was eating in all 
simplicity of the dish placed before him, a monk of his, who 
was not so simple-minded, found a small piece of bacon in 
his dish and showed it to the abbot. As soon as he saw it, 
the abbot pushed away his plate for conscience sake. When 
they were on their way home the abbot blamed the monk for 
his inquisitiveness, saying : “ Ill may you fare, for to-day you 
have robbed me of my food. If you had held your tongue, I, 
by eating in ignorance, should not have sinned in my dinner.” 
But I remember that Daniel, the abbot of Schonau, acted in 
a way exaftly contrary to this. 


395 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter IV. 

Of the mon\ Gotteschalk^, who in the simplicity 
of his heart ate a pie cooked with lard in Siegburg. 


Once when this Daniel, who was then our prior, was dining 
in Siegburg and with him there were Brother Gotteschalk ot 
VolmarStein, a monk simple and upright, there were set before 
them by the brothers of the same monastery a pie which had 
been cooked in lard. Now the prior recognised this at once 
by the smell and would not eat himself, but he did not prevent 
the monk from eating. When the dinner was over and they 
were talking together, Gotteschalk said to the prior: “ Lord 
prior, why did you not eat of the pie, for it was very good?” 
The prior replied: “ I am not surprised to hear that it was 
very good, for it was very well Steeped in lard.” “ And 
why,” said the other, “ did you not tell me this?” The prior 
answered : “ I did not wish to spoil your meal ; you need not 
be unhappy about it, because your ignorance is a full excuse.” 
For this Daniel was a learned man and before his conversion 
a scholaSticus. 

Novice. —I am not surprised that monks should sometimes 
be deceived in lard and in the fat of meat ; but I do wonder 
that some should be so simple as to be deceived in the gross 
substance, i.e. in the meat itself. 

Mon\. —I think that this sometimes may happen through 
the affedion of those who serve them. When the holy Theo- 
philus, bishop of Alexandria, had one day invited some of the 
holy brethren to dinner and had put before them flesh of 
birds, they all thought that they were eating vegetables, until 
he told them what was on their plates. For the appearance 
was not taken away for them with the taSte, but was divinely 
changed owing to the affetftion of the giver. Dom Ensfrid, 
dean of S. Andrew a<fted very much in the same way in my 
own time. You muSt remember this also that the power of 
distinguishing between foods by taSte is much diminished by 
long disuse. For it is no wonder that Dom Theobald, the 

39 s 



Of Singleness of Heart 


abbot of Eberbach, who had never tailed flesh for all his sixty- 
six years in the Order, should have eaten it under the appear¬ 
ance of fish and never noticed the difference ; for the afore¬ 
said Ensfrid put flesh before the monks inflead of a turbot, 
and they all ate in ignorance. 

Novice .—I should like to know more fully about such 
cases. 

Mon^.—The life of this venerable man was adorned with 
such great works of mercy, that it is worthy to be set upon a 
candleilick for all to see. The case about which you ask, 
and his other deeds, which I partly saw for myself and partly 
learned from others, I will relate to you faithfully. For 1 
learnt letters in the very church in which he was dean, and 
deeply do I now regret that at the time I took so little trouble 
to search out his virtues. 


CHAPTER V. 

The life of Dom Ensfrid, dean of S. Andrew in 
Cologne. 

Ensfrid was born in the diocese of Cologne, a man simple- 
minded and upright, and chiefly remarkable for his works 
of mercy. What sort of a life was his before he entered the 
prieflhood or how he spent his youth I do not know. But 
that mercy grew up with him and flourished, this I gather from 
those adls of his that I am about to relate. That he was of 
teachable temper and eager to learn was plain from the result 
itself. For he was so well grounded in his boyhood, that as 
I heard from his own lips, he was as a young man head of the 
schools, and both by word and example intruded very many 
not only to be eager in learning, but what is of more import¬ 
ance to be zealous to lead a good life. 

When he was ordained prieft he undertook the charge of a 
church in Siegburg, one considered to be a good parish, i.e., 


397 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


rich in offerings, and here he began to turn his theories of 
life into pradtice. He did not live there as a Stranger to his 
people, but his door lay always open to every comer. He was 
the father of widows, the consoler of orphans, the scourge of 
sinners. 

Now he kept in his house several scholars and was of such 
dove-like simplicity that at the time when cherries were ripe, 
he said to his Steward : “ My good friend, give the boys leave 
to climb the trees and eat as many of the cherries as they like 
and as they can ; you need not trouble to give them any 
other food because there is none they delight in so much.” He 
said this not from any thought of grasping, but simply from 
the great affedtion of his heart. Now this had gone on for 
several days and though the licence conceded to the boys had 
been delightful to them as boys, his Steward came to him and 
said: “ Assuredly, sir, unless these lads eat some other food 
they will soon be ill and he agreed at once. 

Later he became canon in the Church of S. Andrew at 
Cologne, and not long afterwards, owing to his holy life, he 
was raised to be dean. Now although his whole life was 
irreproachable and of shining purity, yet was he specially 
fervent in works of mercy. In the parish of S. Paul which 
belongs to the Church of S. Andrew, there was not a single 
poor widow whose affairs he did not know, and whom he did 
not help with his alms. So much bread was given from his 
table to those who begged from door to door, so much money 
from his hands was put into the treasury of ChriSt, i.e. into 
the hands of the poor, that it was a marvel to those who knew 
his annual income. 

Now he had a nephew, Frederick by name, canon of the 
same church, who adted as his Steward. He had often to up¬ 
braid his uncle for his reckless generosity, while the uncle 
in his turn upbraided his nephew for too much Stinginess. 
For they shared all their expenses and this was why Frederick 
was much troubled because whatever the dean got hold of, 
he gave away secretly to the poor. 

Once when Frederick, owing to his office of cellarer had a 
number of fine pigs which he killed and turned into hams, 
and hung them up in the kitchen to keep until they should be 

39 s 



Of Singleness of Heart 

needed ; the dean, who often looked into the kitchen, coveted 
very much this fine row of hams and since he could not get 
any of them from his nephew by begging, and did not like 
to take them openly, he thought out a holy trick, a pious trick, 
a trick well worthy of remembrance. As often as he found 
nobody in the kitchen, he went in Stealthily ; or if there 
were any servants there, he sent them out, and climbed up the 
Steps to the row of hams and cut out slices from the part cf 
each ham which was next the wall, until he had taken about 
half of each. The front part however he left untouched so 
that the cutting of the reSt might escape unnoticed. This he 
did for many days and distributed the flesh thus abstracted to 
widows, to any one in want, and to orphans. At length the 
theft of the household goods was discovered ; the thief was 
sought for and found without difficulty. 

The clerk was furious ; the dean said nothing until the 
former complained that he had loSt what belonged to the 
brethren, and the supplies of the whole year ; and then the 
holy man tried to appease him with such words as he could, 
saying: *' My good kinsman, it is surely better that you should 
suffer a little loss than that the poor should die of hunger. 
The Lord will give you a full reward.” And with these 
words Frederick was appeased and upbraided him no more. 

At another time when he was on his way to S. Gereon, I 
think, that he might be present at the feaSt of that martyr, a 
beggar followed him with importunate cries, and since he had 
nothing that he could possibly give him, he told the scholar 
who was accompanying him to go on a little way in front. 
Then he went aside into a corner by the church of the Blessed 
Mary, the mother of God, in a place where it was usual for 
the bishops to be flow indulgences on the people on Palm 
Sunday, and because there was no other article of clothing he 
could take off, he unfastened his breeches, and in the sight 
of the beggar, let them fall. The man picked them up and 
went off rejoicing. 

Now the saint desired to hide his aeft of charity, but God 
willed that it should not be hidden under a bushel, but placed 
upon a candlestick to be an example for posterity. For when 
he came back from S. Gereon and sat down by the fire, but 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


did not as usual lift up his cloak to warm his legs, his nephew 
Frederick said to him: “ Lift up your cloak and warm your 
legs for it was very cold, and he was an old man. And 
when he replied: “ No thank you, I think not Frederick 
added : “ I am pretty sure that you have no breeches,” making 
a guess at this from the good man’s blushes. He did at laft 
confess that he had loft them, but said no word of his charity. 
At this the clerk laughed, and it was he who told me the 
ftory. 

Novice. —Why, this surpasses anything that can be read 
in the ads of S. Martin, for surely it is a much greater thing 
to part with one’s breeches than to give half one’s cloak. 

Mon\. —Because of this and other similar deeds of his, 
some said that they had never heard or read of any man who 
was filled with such marvellous compassion for the poor, 
such wonderful affe&ion and mercy. He used to beftow his 
garments upon the poor without any sort of reftraint, and 
when he suffered from the cold and other garments were sent 
to him, he would do the same thing with them. Always his 
heart seemed full of that saying of the Saviour : Give and it 
shall be given unto you. Dom Everard, of whom I remember 
we spoke in the ninetieth chapter of the fourth book, who was 
the venerable vicar of S. James’ Church, had a great love for 
him, they were of one heart and mind in the Lord. Now 
when he wished to give Ensfrid any article of clothing, he 
used to say, in order that it might be of use to him for a little 
longer than usual, “ I will lend you this garment.” 

Novice. —I think that a man who was so lavish towards the 
poor, muft have been very liberal towards guefts. 

Mon\. —With how great love he received them the follow¬ 
ing ftory will show. One day he invited to dinner some 
religious, I am not sure whether they were Ciftercians or 
Premonftratensians; and he happened to have in the house 
no regular convent food or any fish ; so he said to his cook: 
“ We have no fish, and these men are simple-minded monks 
and very hungry ; go and make a hash, take out all the bones 
and spice it well and then set it before them and say: ‘ Will 
you please to eat of this excellent turbot.’ ” And when he 
had done this, they, good simple men noticed nothing of the 


400 



Of Singleness of Heart 


pious fraud of their good simple hoSf, and asked no questions, 
both for their rule of silence and also for conscience sake, but 
ate of what was placed before them as fish. The dish was 
almoSt empty, when one of them discovered a little pig’s ear, 
and pointed it out to his neighbour ; the dean saw him do 
this and pretending indignation called out to him : “ Eat and 
give God thanks ; monks ought not to be so curious ; do you 
suppose that a turbot has no ears?” 

The devil who is the enemy of the human race was envious 
of such great virtues ; and so, in the hope of troubling him, 
he took visible shape and thruSf himself into his presence and 
disappeared again after addressing him in these verses. 

“ Death holds his mirror up, that you may see 
How little life or health is left for thee.” 

Do you notice the folly of this versifying devil? The very 
means he used to damp the ardour of the saint only Stimulated 
him to further effort. Indeed his life laSfed for about thirty 
years after this time, and he was all the more fervent in good 
works as he had been told that he was the nearer to death. 

On a certain festival, Dom Adolphus, the dean of the cathe¬ 
dral, afterwards archbishop of Cologne, invited him to dinner ; 
but he declined saying that he was expecting some important 
gueSts. After mass, when the saint was hastening home, his 
fellow canon Godfrey, the secretary of the dean of the cathe¬ 
dral, was looking out of the window of the solar of the clergy 
house, and as he told me himself saw him with a number of 
beggars in this train, some of whom were lame and others 
blind. And when they found a difficulty in crossing the big 
Stones which divide the Street at this point, he saw that Ensfrid 
although he was already somewhat decrepit with age, Stopped 
to offer a hand to each. Immediately the clerk called his 
maSter to the window and said: “ Look my lord, there are 
the important gueSts whom our dean said that he muSt go to 
meet and they were both not a little edified. 

I myself saw him carry out a work of compassion of very 
much the same kind : on the anniversary of Dom Bruno, the 
Archbishop of Cologne, when all the conventional churches 
were gathering to the Church of S. Panteleon, the martyr, 

401 

26 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


which Bruno himself had built ; after mass had been said 
for his soul, the various priors entered the refe&ory to dine 
together according to custom, and a number of beggars 
followed Dom Ensfrid as far as the door of the refe&ory. 
The caterer was of course anxious to admit him and keep out 
the beggars ; but Ensfrid grew very angry and cried out: 
“ I will certainly not come in to-day without these friends of 
mine,” for well the wise man knew that the poor are the 
friends of God and the doorkeepers of heaven (Luke xvi. 9). 

This too is the reason why when once he had been asked 
to Stand by the relics and urge people as they came in to give 
alms to the restoration of the church, which was at that time 
in his charge, he addressed them as follows, “ My good 
friends, you see plainly how splendid are these restorations 
that we are making, and you will do well in giving your alms 
towards them, but nevertheless let me tell you that you wili 
do Still better and more wisely if you give them to the poor.” 
This exhortation was heard at the time by one monk Frederick 
of blessed memory, as he was entering the Church of S. 
Andrew with certain knights and he often afterwards told 
me the Story. 

He used also to feed from his Stipend God-fearing persons 
that he might have a share in their merits. And so it came 
about that he supported from his prebend all her life that 
venerable recluse of our Order, the lady Heilige, who was as 
truly holy as her name and whose cell was attached to the 
monastery of S. Andrew ; for that blessed one consistently 
refused to take alms from anyone else. Further he was 
accuStomed to call the poor his heavenly treasure houses, 
whom no moth could corrupt, whom no thieves could brea\ 
through or Heal (Matt. vi. 19). Wherefore as we have 
already shown, he cared far more to comfort the poor than to 
increase buildings, or treasures or other perishable ornaments 
of churches. When he dined alone, he used to bring to his 
table poor lads whose hands were ulcerated and sadly 
negle&ed, and used to make them with them feed from his 
own plate. 

Novice .—Very wonderful and admirable are the piety, 
humility and simplicity of this dean. 


402 



Of Singleness of Heart 


Mont {.—I will tell you something you will wonder at Hill 
more. He had a dear friend who lived near him, a citizen 
of Cologne named Lambert. This man was supping one 
day with Godfrey, the secretary we spoke of before, and they 
were talking together of the charity of Dom Ensfrid, when 
Lambert said in my hearing: “ Let me tell you how he treated 
me. Once he had invited my wife and myself to supper 
with him. While we were sitting at table, we had been for 
some time expecting a dish to be brought in, for there was 
nothing in front of us except dry bread. And because 1 
knew well his little ways, I beckoned to one of the servants 
and whispered : ‘ Tell me, my good fellow, are we not going 
to have anything to eat ? ’ He replied: ‘ We haven’t a 
thing in the house ; the h£t is that a good supper had been 
prepared for you, but my mailer came into the kitchen juft 
before we served it up and divided among the poor all that 
we had prepared, in spite of anything that we could say.’ 
I was much amused at this and sent the same servant to my 
house and he brought back enough food to satisfy all the 
gueffs.” 

Another day I went into his kitchen and saw a number of 
geese turning on spits before the fire, and I said to myself: 
“ Certainly this good dean makes very good provision for his 
household.” But as soon as the geese were cooked, he himself 
came in, cut them up, and arranging portions on the dishes, 
sent the whole of them to poor widows. Often geese and 
chickens were sent to him, sometimes officially, owing to his 
position as dean, and sometimes as gifts, because many loved 
him, for they knew well his benevolence. 

And here is another mark of his charity : whenever he 
wished to send any of these either to his brethren or to any 
other of his neighbours, he would have them killed before he 
sent them in order that they might be eaten at once. 

He had so much compassion for the poor, as I said above, 
that he sometimes did what human judgment might condemn. 
One of the priefts of S. Andrew told me that there was a 
certain citizen of Cologne who was less fond of his wife than 
he ought to have been, and often treated her harshly ; on 
this account she Hole from him a large sum of money. When 

4°3 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


her husband charged her with the theft she denied it boldly, 
and then being afraid of being found out she threw it into the 
cesspool. Afterwards she repented of what she had done, 
and she went to the dean and confessed to him the theft and 
the cause of it. I believe that the holy man tried to persuade 
her to restore the money to her husband ; but because she 
had sworn to him that she had not taken it, she did not dare 
to do this, being afraid that he would ill-treat her Still more 
if he knew. Whereupon the dean said: “ If I can get hold 
of the money without implicating you, are you willing that 
it should be given to the poor?” She replied that this was 
what she desired above all things, and a few days later 
the dean called upon the citizen and said: “ Will you give 
me leave to have your cesspool cleaned out, and if by the 
grace of God I should find anything there, will you allow me 
to take it?” The other, knowing him to be a holy man, and 
thinking that God had made some revelation to him, gave 
him leave. The cesspool was cleaned out and the money was 
found, and within a few days was distributed to the poor by 
the hands of the man of God. 

Novice .—I think that a detra&or might certainly find in 
this an opportunity for carping. 

Mon \.—There are three points which I think excuse him 
from sin. The firSt that the money belonged to the wife as 
well as to the husband ; secondly, that it was loSt and could 
not have been found except by the woman’s confession ; and 
thirdly, that he distributed it to the poor ; and laSt of all, the 
charity which instigated him. PrieSts are often accustomed 
to give permission to wives to take money from miserly and 
uncharitable husbands and give it to the poor. 

But there was something else which he did that laid him 
much more open to censure. Once when he had nothing 
to eat, he went into the bakehouse of the brethren, where the 
loaves were set out upon a table ready for diSlribution, and 
asked the baker to which of the brethren each batch of loaves 
belonged, and when he had learned from the baker the 
ownership of each, he ordered the loaves of those he knew to 
be rich to be carried off to his own house, saying: “ They 
have abundance and I have nothing at all to eat.” 



Of Singleness of Heart 


Novice .—How can such an aft as this be excused. 

Mon \.—There are many things lawful to saints which 
could not be permitted to other men (2 Cor. iii. 17). This 
is why the authorities say: “ So long as you are in a Slate of 
grace you may do what you will.” Therefore he is excused 
by his sanftity, by his necessity, by the words of authority and 
by brotherhood. Sanftity, because it was his love for the 
poor that brought him to want ; necessity, which knows no 
law, and concerning which Rudolph, the scholaSticus of 
Cologne Cathedral used to say to his pupils: “ Before I 
would die of hunger, I would snatch something to eat even 
from the feet of the Crucifix.” He was excused to a certain 
extent by his position, because he was a dean and a sort of 
father to his brethren ; by brotherhood, because he considered 
that they all had everything in common, juft as he had made 
his own property common to all. 

Now when from the failure of his bodily ftrength and from 
his great age, he felt that the day of his death was pressing 
upon him, in order that no earthly possession might encumber 
his humble soul on its homeward way, he sold lus house, and 
with his own hands divided the proceeds, not amongft his 
relations or friends, but amongft Chrift’s poor. For well he 
knew that his fellow canons, even the moil truftworthy, might 
easily be less truftworthy after his death. His house was 
bought by Conrad, a prieft and canon of the same church. 
After the tranaftion Conrad came to him and said: “ Sir, I 
should like to have my house,” to whom he replied with great 
simplicity: “ My good Conrad, I am a decrepit old man and 
shall not live long ; be patient for a little while and you shall 
certainly have it. Where would you wish me to live for the 
short time remaining to me?” The good Conrad, making 
a virtue of necessity, waited for his death with great patience. 

The blessed saint had a heart of such tenderness that often 
when he was sitting in the portico of the church and saw poor 
men pass by, burdened with the moss which they had collefted 
from the woods, he would buy it himself, not that he in the 
ieaft wanted it, but simply to deliver the poor from their toil. 

Our fellow monk, Rener, who was once scholafticus of that 
church, also told me that one day when a beggar laden with 

4<>5 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


bellows for sale, and, unable to sell them, came to rest in the 
same portico, Ensfrid said to him : “Rener, buy those bellows”; 
and when he replied: “ But, sir, I do not want them,” he 
answered : “ Then buy them and give them to your friends.” 
Whereupon Rener bought them, knowing full well that it 
was the dean’s compassion which urged him to this request. 

His heart was so tender that he could not bear to see anyone 
Struck or abused if he could prevent it. One day he was 
passing the schools and heard the cries of a certain canon who 
had grievously transgressed, and who was being held down 
by four scholars for a flogging, immediately he rushed pant¬ 
ing into the schools like a lion, and going up to his fellow 
canon, the scholaSticus, in the sight of us all he lifted up his 
Stick and delivered the lad from his hands. “ What are you 
doing,” he cried, “ you tyrant? You are appointed to teach 
the boys, not to murder them and the other covered with 
confusion made no reply. 

How great his patience was the following Story will show. 
One day he was sitting in the church porch according to his 
cuStom, I think between the None and Vespers, when a certain 
Scothus, a miserable fellow, who was frequently drunk and 
who was altogether unworthy of the dignity of the priesthood, 
came up to him, nobody else being present, seized him by the 
hood, drew out a knife and said in a threatening voiceGive 
me some money or 1 will kill you.” But by the providence 
of God there came in a young and active canon who pulled 
off Scothus very roughly. But when he wished to kill him, 
judging him worthy of death, this moSt gentle-hearted saint 
restrained him saying: “ Do not be angry, my brother, take 
care not to hurt him, for it was only a joke.” 

Never did he return evil for evil, because of the dovelike 
simplicity that ruled in his heart. Yet full as he was of 
wonderful tenderness, as we have often said, he nevertheless 
burnt with a great zeal for justice. Once he happened to 
meet the abbess of the convent of the eleven thousand virgins. 
Before her there went clerks robed in the grey mantles of the 
nuns, behind her followed hand-maidens and attendants, who 
filled the air with a clamour of foolish words. But behind 
the dean there followed a crowd of beggars asking alms of him. 

406 



PLATE V 









Of Singleness of Heart 


The holy man, inflamed with a zeal for discipline, cried aloud 
in the hearing of all: “ O lady abbess, it would better become 
your profession and better honour your religion, if you were 
followed by paupers as 1 am, rather than by buffoons.” At 
which she blushed deeply, but did not presume to make any 
reply to such a man. 

So great was the love of justice in him, that one day when 
someone in his hearing was speaking of the evil life of the 
clergy, he replied at once : “ It is all one how they live,” as if 
he had said : From an evil root no good tree can spring. For 
he had known few clerks who had entered the church in the 
right way, i.e. who had not been introduced by nepotism i.e. 
pushed in by their relations, or by favouritism, i.e. thruS 
forward by the power of great men ; or by simony, to wit, 
by payment of money, or in return for some dishonourable 
service rendered. 

Novice .—This vice holds great sway among the clergy in 
these days. 

A lon \.—That is true, especially in those churches in which 
prelates are appointed to draw their salaries without being 
elected. Indeed Rudolph, bishop of Liege took so much 
pride in simony that once, when he had sold a prebend of 
a certain church of his, he clasped the money to his breasl 
and said in the presence of many bystanders: “ I have greatly 
enriched the church of Liege and have increased its revenues. 
For the prebend which my predecessors sold for ten 
marks, I have brought up to forty." And because the 
saint knew that few men entered upon their canonries 
with a simple heart, he judged that few lived in them with 
simplicity. 

And with this zeal for juStice he had also an eager love for 
regular discipline. For after him even to this day there 
has never arisen in that church a dean under whom discipline 
flourished so vigorously. Even at the very close of his life, 
right up to the day of his death, he would never suffer him¬ 
self to omit any weekly observance of Divine service. Often 
when celebrating mass in the convent he had to be held up 
by the arms of others left he should fall. On feaff: days, 
he, like everybody else, chanted the Alleluia at the Steps. 


407 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


When others left the church, he rarely went out of it, unless 
to go and take food ; and sitting down before the altar of 
the Holy Cross he would Stay there hour after hour. 

In public he was always so ready to receive penitents, that 
he would frequently sit with them in the portico and would 
read to them the manuscripts and comfort them, and make 
them write out their prayers and petitions. His humility 
was so great, that though he was far above all both in age and 
dignity, he would always, except on special feaSls, choose 
almoSt the loweSt place in the choir. 

His robes were always very common and humble, neither 
grey nor coloured but simply made of natural sheep’s wool, 
and he always wore a cloak of the same material. 

Novice .—Why is that you tell me no miracle of so great a 
saint. 

Monl {.—There is none greater than John the BaptiSl ; yet 
we do not read that he performed any miracle such as the 
gospel relates were done by the betrayer Judas (Mark vi. 13). 
Indeed to some of those who now perform miracles in the 
name of ChriSl, He Himself will say in the laSt day : " I 
\now not whence ye are ; depart from me all ye workers of 
iniquity (Luke xiii. 27). For miracles are not of the sub¬ 
stance of sandtity, but rather its signs. The Lord, willing 
to reward his worn-out soldier after his toil, called him to 
glory as follows. On EaSter Eve when he was expedted at 
the solemn service because it was his week, suddenly his 
Strength began to fail. The before-mentioned Rener was 
sent for, who discovered by feeling his pulse that he was at 
the very gate of death, and advised him at once to receive 
Extreme Undtion, and placed in his mouth a medicinal 
lozenge to relieve him. This he immediately spat out, say¬ 
ing : “ I shall be celebrating mass in the convent ” ; and 
Rener replied: “ You will never celebrate mass again in this 
life.” When he heard this he besought that he might receive 
Extreme Undtion, and then joined the brethren in chanting 
the Psalms and Litany. About three o’clock he gave up 
his spirit to be with ChriSl in the company of the spirits of 
juSt men made perfedt. When he was buried on the follow¬ 
ing EaSter Monday, Dom Everard, the vicar of St. James, 

408 



Of Singleness of Heart 


whose virtuous life I have described to you in the ninety- 
eighth chapter of the fourth book, bore this witness concern¬ 
ing him in the hearing of the many: “ This day ” he said, 
“ we have here committed to the earth the moff holy man 
who has ever lived upon it.” 

And as the question of miracles has been raised, I may 
tell you that after his death there was no lack of signs and 
wonders. A certain priefl and Stipendiary of that church, 
named Adam, told me himself that once when he was 
tormented with very violent pains in the head, he went to 
the tomb of this saint and prayed as follows: “ Lord ” he 
said, “ grant me some relief from my pain for the sake of 
the merits of this saint of Thine.” Forthwith his prayer was 
heard, and he who had come thither in sickness, departed 
in full health. Many other works well worthy of recording, 
did this holy man perform, but I omit them because I have no 
room to describe them. 

Novice .—Would that all deans were like him so simple- 
hearted and so holy. 

Monl(.—l call to mind how another dean, a simple-hearted 
man and a worthy servant of God, some of whose virtues 
were lately told me by Mailer John, the dean of Aix, who 
was born in the same town in which that holy dean lived, 
and I will tell you what I heard of him. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Also of the life of Dom Herman, dean of the 
Church of Hildesheim. 

There was in our own time in the church of Hildesheim 
a good man and dear to God, by name Herman, full of many 
virtues and works of virtue. In sacred vigils, in prayer 
failings, and works of mercy all his desire was to do the will 
of God. The enemy of the human race, angered by these 

409 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


When others left the church, he rarely went out of it, unless 
to go and take food ; and sitting down before the altar of 
the Holy Cross he would Stay there hour after hour. 

In public he was always so ready to receive penitents, that 
he would frequently sit with them in the portico and would 
read to them the manuscripts and comfort them, and make 
them write out their prayers and petitions. His humility 
was so great, that though he was far above all both in age and 
dignity, he would always, except on special feafts, choose 
almoSt the loweSt place in the choir. 

His robes were always very common and humble, neither 
grey nor coloured but simply made of natural sheep’s wool, 
and he always wore a cloak of the same material. 

Novice .—Why is that you tell me no miracle of so great a 
saint. 

Mon \.—There is none greater than John the BaptiSt ; yet 
we do not read that he performed any miracle such as the 
gospel relates were done by the betrayer Judas (Mark vi. 13). 
Indeed to some of those who now perform miracles in the 
name of ChriSt, He Himself will say in the laSt day: " / 
know not whence ye are ; depart from me all ye workers of 
iniqnity (Luke xiii. 27). For miracles are not of the sub¬ 
stance of sandtity, but rather its signs. The Lord, willing 
to reward his worn-out soldier after his toil, called him to 
glory as follows. On EaSter Eve when he was expedted at 
the solemn service because it was his week, suddenly his 
Strength began to fail. The before-mentioned Rener was 
sent for, who discovered by feeling his pulse that he was at 
the very gate of death, and advised him at once to receive 
Extreme Undtion, and placed in his mouth a medicinal 
lozenge to relieve him. This he immediately spat out, say¬ 
ing : “ I shall be celebrating mass in the convent ” ; and 
Rener replied: “You will never celebrate mass again in this 
life.” When he heard this he besought that he might receive 
Extreme Undtion, and then joined the brethren in chanting 
the Psalms -and Litany. About three o’clock he gave up 
his spirit to be with ChriSt in the company of the spirits of 
juSt men made perfedl. When he was buried on the follow¬ 
ing EaSter Monday, Dom Everard, the vicar of St. James, 

408 



Of Singleness of Heart 


whose virtuous life I have described to you in the ninety- 
eighth chapter of the fourth book, bore this witness concern¬ 
ing him in the hearing of the many: “ This day ” he said, 
“ we have here committed to the earth the moft holy man 
who has ever lived upon it.” 

And as the question of miracles has been raised, I may 
tell you that after his death there was no lack of signs and 
wonders. A certain priefl and Stipendiary of that church, 
named Adam, told me himself that once when he was 
tormented with very violent pains in the head, he went to 
the tomb of this saint and prayed as follows: “ Lord ” he 
said, “ grant me some relief from my pain for the sake of 
the merits of this saint of Thine.” Forthwith his prayer was 
heard, and he who had come thither in sickness, departed 
in full health. Many other works well worthy of recording, 
did this holy man perform, but I omit them because I have no 
room to describe them. 

Novice .—Would that all deans were like him so simple- 
hearted and so holy. 

Mon \.—I call to mind how another dean, a simple-hearted 
man and a worthy servant of God, some of whose virtues 
were lately told me by Mailer John, the dean of Aix, who 
was bom in the same town in which that holy dean lived, 
and I will tell you what I heard of him. 


CHAPTER VI. 

Also of the life of Dom Herman, dean of the 
Church of Hildesheim. 

There was in our own time in the church of Hildesheim 
a good man and dear to God, by name Herman,' full of many 
virtues and works of virtue. In sacred vigils, in prayer 
failings, and works of mercy all his desire was to do the will 
of God. The enemy of the human race, angered by these 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


works of his, tried to hinder him in every fashion, so that 
the holy man was accustomed to say to him: “ O, devil ” 
full of all malice, why do£t thou so much harass me ? ” 

Once when he was planting in his orchard a little tree 
and was grafting on to the trunk two shoots, one of these 
dried up, but the other proved healthy. Thereupon as he 
earnestly desired a sign from Almighty God, he prayed: 
“ I beseech Thee Lord, if it be Thy Will that I should become 
a prieSt, cause this dry shoot to live again.” Behold the 
wonderful mercy of God ! forthwith that dry shoot began 
to flourish with sap and in due time brought forth fruit. 
Thus the Divine power which confirmed in his office Aaron, 
the firSt prieSt, by causing a dry rod to flower contrary to 
nature, showed by a similar miracle that this man was worthy 
of the priesthood. 

When after his death a certain clerk of his, Everard by 
name, on whom he had beStowed a church, became blind, and 
prayed daily at Herman’s tomb, relying upon his holiness 
and pity, and begging that he might receive his sight for 
the sake of the merits of his maSfcer, the holy Herman 
appeared to him visibly one day and said : “ What will thou 
that I should do for thee? ” and when the blind man replied : 
“ MaSter that I may receive my sight,” the saint said to him 
in the very words of the gospel: " Receive thy sight for thy 
faith hath saved thee ” (Luke xviii. 42). That very hour 
the clerk received his sight, and so long as he lived gave 
thanks to the Lord, who had so glorified His saint, as he 
himself had experienced. 

Later, when a certain sick man had been carried to the 
Martyr’s Memorial and had not been healed, by the advice 
of a friend he made his prayer to the same St. Herman and 
was cured. It happened that this man entered the church 
on the anniversary of Dom Herman, and asked why all the 
bells were ringing and received this answer : “ To day is 
the anniversary of Dom Herman, formerly dean of this 
church, a good and upright man, and a mass is to be said 
for him in the convent.” The man replied : “ I beg you 
to show me his tomb.” And when this was done, he Stood 
there for a long time praying with much devotion, and the 

410 



Or Singleness of Heart 


precentor of the church, noticing this, made opportunity for 
a private conversation with him, and asked and learnt the 
reason of his prayer. And so by the mouth of a Stranger 
his merits were known so that the brethren began to invoke 
as their patron saint him whom they had formerly looked 
upon merely as their dean. 

Novice. —Such things are rare nowadays. 

Mon\. —I prefer the works of piety of St. Ensfrid to the 
miracles recorded of St. Herman. For the former, as I said, 
make a man a saint, while the latter only show that he is a 
saint. 

Novice. —Indeed I heartily agree with you ; and if you 
know any other works of simplicity I beseech you to tell me 
them. 

Mon\. —I will tell you the Story of a man, who had the 
simplest of natures, and by this you will learn clearly how 
pleasing to God is the holy and prudent simplicity which 
comes by grace. 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of the simplicity of Werinbold, canon of St. 

Gereon in Cologne. 

In the church of St. Gereon, the martyr, in the city of 
Cologne there was a certain canon, Werinbold by name, of 
noble birth, and very rich in ecclesiaSlical preferments. He 
was a man of so great simplicity, that he never could grasp 
the sum total of anything, except so far that he was able to 
tell whether it was odd or even. At one time he had a great 
number of hams hanging up in his kitchen, and to prevent 
them from being Stolen, he used to go and count them as 
follows: “ Here is a ham and here is its fellow, here is a 
ham and here is its wife, and so on to the end. One of 
them having been Stolen by the dishoneSly of his servants 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


when next he went in and counted his hams in his usual 
way, he discovered them to be odd in number, and cried 
out: “ I have loft one of my hams.” The servants, secretly 
laughing, answered him: “ We shall soon find it, Sir.” 
And when he had gone out, and they had again made the 
number even by ftealing another, and he, coming back, 
counted them again and found them even, he said very kindly 
to the servants: “ Alas ! my friends to think that I might 
have kept silence too long.” 

When the servants wished to have a feaft they used to 
say to him: “ Sir, why do you not take greater care of your¬ 
self, for truly you are very weak.” And when he said: 
“ How do you know this, my good lads ? ” they answered: 
“ We see it clearly by your hair, because it is so rough ; ” and 
so they put him to bed and regaled themselves with all kinds 
of delicacies which they pretended to have prepared for his 
sickness. 

A certain unscrupulous and clever ruftic, hearing of so 
great simplicity, pretended that he had been his original 
servant and his father’s before him. “ Sir,” he said, “ I 
cannot permit your affairs to be so neglecfted. For I am 
your servant, and it is right that I should truly serve your 
honour, and faithfully guard all your possessions.” To sum 
up, everything was handed over to this man’s charge ; and 
at night when his mafter went to bed, he used to sit down 
by the fire with the other servants and drink to his heart’s 
content. Once when he brought in by chance a jefter, who 
by the sweetness of his music had roused the sleeper, the 
servant ran to his mafter and found him juft getting up, 
and he cried: “ Where are you going, Sir ? When he 
replied : “ I hear the moft beautiful music, but I do not know 
where it comes from,” the serving man went on: “ Go back 
to your bed ; it is only the monks of Deutz who are playing 
upon their organ.” 

Not/ice. —I think there is great wickedness in thus mock¬ 
ing the simple. 

Mon\. —There can be no doubt of that ; remember what 
holy Job says: The jufl upright man is laughed to scorn 
(Job xii. 4). Upon this passage Gregory comments: The 


412 



Of Singleness of Heart 


simplicity o£ the upright is mocked, because the virtue of 
simplicity is considered foolish by the worldly wise. For 
everything that is done in innocence is thought by them to 
be pure foolishness, and whatever in their a&ions is 
approved by truth sounds fatuous to worldly wisdom. 

Novice. —Indeed this man seems to me to have been foolish 
rather than simple, because simplicity ought not to be divorced 
from prudence. 

Mon\. —Prudence consifts in guarding againSf evils before¬ 
hand, and that was a virtue he did not lack. And so it 
came to pass by the Divine Will that he was made cellarer 
in the church of St. Gereon, whose revenues are many and 
great. And as we read of holy Joseph, though he knew 
nothing but the bread which he ate, and that only scantily, 
the Lord, who loves simplicity, supplied this defeat of his 
and blessed everything to which he set his hand. 

One day, when he entered the granary of the convent, he 
saw several cats running hither and thither amongSf the corn, 
and could scarcely wait for the meeting of the Chapter, but 
threw himself at the feet of the dean, and begged to be 
released from his office and to give up his keys. When the 
dean and the brethren said : “ Good maSter Werinbold, what 
is the matter? why do you do this ” ? he replied: “ Because 
I cannot bear to look upon the losses of the convent.” 
“ What losses ” ? they asked ; and he said : “ To-day I saw 
several cats in the granary, and they will devour all your 
corn,” When they said: “ Cats do not eat corn, but only 
protedf it ” ; yet for all their entreaties they could scarcely 
induce him to take back the keys. They indeed had learnt 
by experience that the Lord blessed them for the sake of his 
simplicity. 

Once when he had money of different coinage from 
different eSfates, one of his servants Stole part of it and ran 
away. When he found this out and was grievously lament¬ 
ing, he answered those who were trying to console him: 
“It is not the loss that I am bemoaning, but the danger to 
the thief. The coins are not such as will pass in exchange, 
the wretched fellow muSt be caught, and if he is condemned 
on their account, I shall be guilty of his death.” 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice .—We should not choose as cellarers such men as 
this now-a-days. 

Mon \.—Times are changed and men also. Yet even to¬ 
day it often happens that under simple-minded prelates and 
officials Religious houses have great outward prosperity, and 
come to poverty under those who are clever and practised in 
all worldly skill. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Of the simplicity of Chriflian who was cellarer in 
Brauweile. 

In the monastery of St. Nicholas in the town of Brauweile 
there was a very simple-minded monk named Christian, who 
was appointed cellarer by the abbot. But God, to whom 
upright simplicity is dear, so directed all that he did that at 
the time when he was in office the convent flourished more 
abundantly in all necessary things than ever before or since. 

Very often his servants and hired men Stole his corn and 
wine and many other things, and carried them away to their 
wives and children. And when he found this out and some¬ 
times saw it with his own eyes, he pretended in the great 
pity of his heart not to see it, saying within himself: “ They 
are poor and in want, and the brethren will not lack any 
necessaries.” 

The simple man is often compared to an a<Aor or jeSter, 
for as their words or actions would often be displeasing in 
the mouth or hands of one who is not a jeSter, and would be 
worthy of punishment, yet when the same things are said or 
done by jeSters they give pleasure ; and so it is with the simple- 
minded. If I may put it in such a way the simple-minded 
are the jesters of God and the Holy Angels. But if their 
deeds are sometimes done by those who are not simple- 
minded there is no doubt that they are displeasing to God 
who delights in them when they are done by the simple. 

4M 















Of Singleness of Heart 


CHAPTER IX. 

Of a tnon\ of Burscheid. 

In Burscheid there was a monk so simple-minded that 
almost every day he used to sit among the paupers in the 
baths which there flow naturally warm before the gate of the 
monastery, and used to rub the backs of the poor and wash 
their heads and cleanse their clothes. Now both the abbot 
and his brethren used frequently and sharply to upbraid him 
for this, but he did not desiSl but answered very simply as 
follows: “ But if I leave off doing this, who will do it instead 
for the poor ” ? Now if anybody else, without the excuse 
of simplicity should have shown himself so presumptuous in 
response to the orders of his abbot, there can be no doubt 
that he would have offended God grievously (Eccles. v. i). 

Moreover that the works of this simple-minded man were 
pleasing to God will be made plain by the following miracle. 
Once when he went to Cologne to preach there, he was enter¬ 
tained in the house of a certain Abraham. That night when 
the bell for matins was ringing in the church of the blessed 
Peter, he got up and as he was hastening thither, he saw that 
the window of the upper room where he was sleeping was 
open, and thinking it to be the door he went through it and 
so came to the church after being helped to the ground in 
wonderful fashion. As soon as matins was over, he came 
back and when he knocked at the door of the house, and was 
asked by those who let him in whence he came, and how he 
had got out of the house, they discovered from his reply that 
he had gone out through the window and not by the door. 
He, himself, however was quite unconscious of any miracle. 
I myself have seen this window, and it is so high above the 
ground, that there cannot be any doubt that he was set down 
by the Holy Angels (Ps. xli. n, 12). The following Story 
will show how faithful a guardian of the simple the Lord is. 


415 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter X. 

The life of the blind Engilbert. 

There was a certain simple-hearted man, Engilbert by 
name, born in the province of Zulpich who died a few years 
ago. This man was born blind, and became well known 
in several provinces owing to the various gifts with which 
Divine grace illuminated his inner man, and was venerated 
by many great personages of either sex. He used to go 
about in a simple cape and woollen tunic, walking upon 
bare feet both in summer and winter, and, with a boy to guide 
him, used thus often to visit very distant shrines of the saints. 
He never ate flesh nor slept in a bed, but at night lay only 
upon a little Straw or hay. I myself have seen many of his 
good works, and he edified many both by word and example. 

When he was a young man, he was passing the night in 
the house of his mother’s siSter a wealthy matron, and had 
chosen his bed amongSt her servants ; in the middle of the 
night two thieves broke through the wall close to where he 
was lying and came in. These men uncovered the fire, lit 
a candle, broke open the lockers, and talked fearlessly 
together. When Engilbert heard them and felt sure that 
they were thieves, he tried to waken the servants sleeping on 
either side of him, but unsuccessful in this, he took out his 
knife and cut through the top of the bench, and so armed 
himself with a club. And because, being blind, he could 
not see them he went towards them under God’s guidance, 
following the sound of their voices, and brandishing his club 
firSt with one hand and then with the other, and Striking 
like a madman in every direction as far as he could reach, 
he drove them out of the house. He followed them as far 
as the door, which he barricaded with a ladder ; and they, 
when they found themselves outside the house, and discovered 
that no one was awake except this man alone, were angry 
at so ignominious an expulsion, and after taking counsel 
together, forthwith they Strove to get in again. The move¬ 
ment of the ladder showed this to Engilbert, so he placed one 

416 



Of Singleness of Heart 


end of the ladder under a big cheft in which the grain was 
kept and which flood opposite the door, and held the other 
end with both hands. Now when they crept in on hands 
and knees, Engilbert pressed heavily with the ladder upon 
their backs, since they were crawling on their faces, and held 
it down so Strongly that he took from them, not only all 
power of advance, but even of retreat. Now when they 
found themselves held as it were under a yoke, being in terror 
that in the morning they mufl be caught, they begged for 
mercy. When they had sworn with moft terrible oaths that 
they would not injure his person, or try again to break into 
that house, he let them go. In the morning Engilbert gave 
information of the theft, but none of his neighbours sleeping 
near could be awakened by any means. Then search was 
made for signs of witchcraft, for they knew that this muft have 
happened by some such power, and they found above the door 
hanging from the roof what looked like the backbone of a 
human corpse. When this was taken away, all at once awoke. 

Novice .—These are great things to have been done by a 
blind and simple man. 

Monk .•—Greater is what follows because it has to do with 
the saving of souls. Many years afterwards these same 
thieves urged by the fame and the virtues of the said Engil¬ 
bert, and touched as I believe by his prayers, came to him, 
confessed who they were, and thenceforward led a religious 
life. This marvellous deed and certain others about which 
we shall speak later were told me by others, and when I asked 
him if they were true, he teftified quite simply that they had 
taken place juft as related. And because the secret of the 
Lord is with (Prov. iii. 32) the simple, He gave him the 
spirit of prophecy to recompense the loss of outward light 
with the brightness of the inward eye. Once when he was 
invited to visit the Duchess of Saxony, the wife of Duke 
Henry, a very religious matron he foretold to her, amongft 
other things, that one of her sons would become Emperor. 
And this we saw afterwards fulfilled in Otto who succeeded 
Henry in the Empire. He after his election fell into great 
tribulations and when everybody else despaired of him, he 
was comforted by this same blind man, who assured him 

W 


27 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


that everything which had been pre-ordained by God should 
be fulfilled to the smallest detail. 

Before this when Hildegund of Giemenich, a spiritually- 
minded widow, was terrified for her sons, Arnold and his 
brothers, owing to the quarrel of the two Counts of our 
country, and begged him to pray to God that they might be 
kept safe, he answered: “ Do not be anxious about this 
quarrel, which will soon be at an end ; another far greater 
trouble is at the door, by which not only your sons but the 
whole world will be shaken.” This was fulfilled under the 
Otto whom we have already mentioned and Philip his rival 
in the Kingdom. 

One day when he was walking through a certain Street in 
Cologne, there met him several honourable matrons of that 
city on their way to the church. While they were talking 
together he said : “ Please Stop a moment, ladies.” And while 
they Stood Still, he went on: “ Will she who was speaking 
juSt now be good enough to repeat what she was saying.” 
And while the ladies were hesitating as to whom he meant, 
they all remained silent while he repeated the exaft words 
which had been used. When he came to AStrada, who to¬ 
day is a nun in the convent of S. Walburgis, as soon as he 
heard her voice, Engilbert replied prophetically in the hearing 
of all: “ This woman with her whole house will be con¬ 
verted to ChriSt; ” which was fulfilled very soon afterwards. 
For she, with her husband, her son, her daughter, who to-day 
is an abbess in the afore-mentioned convent, and with her 
man-servant and maid servant joined our Order. You see 
how swiftly, by opening the mouth of the aforesaid woman, 
The Lord told her His will in her ear (i Sam. ix. 15). 

He was often accustomed to say much about the condition 
of souls, and sometimes, it is said, a human spirit of error 
deceived him. And this is not to be wondered at; for not 
always did prophets speak with the spirit of prophecy, as for 
instance Nathan (1 Chron. xvii.) who by his spirit exhorted 
David to an aft, which the Holy Spirit immediately after¬ 
wards forbade to be performed. 

On a certain feaSt of Our Lady, when his mother’s siSter, 
whom we mentioned before, he was going in the evening to 

418 



Of Singleness of Heart 


a village close at hand for matins and said to him: “ Engil- 
bert, come with me to-morrow morning ” ; that same night 
before dawn he heard the voice of someone knocking at the 
door, and saying: “ Come, Engilbert, let us go to matins.” 
And although he did not recognise the voice, nevertheless 
he got up and followed. He was led into a certain church 
where he heard Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext and the None. 
Then when he returned alone, and was asked where he had 
been, he replied : “ Never have I heard such beautiful sing¬ 
ing, such sweet melodies, such a glorious Mass as I have 
heard to-day.” 

The same thing happened to him again the following 
year ; for he had not yet put on the Religious dress. One 
night he was taken from his bed, carried away and set down 
near the caftle of Manbach in a very terrible solitary place. 
Here his soul left his body and wandered round all the 
corners and all the ups and downs of this wilderness, and 
took such careful notice of everything that many were 
astonished when he afterwards told what he had seen. As 
his soul was returning, a demon met it on the way and said : 
“ Your body belongs to me.” When he had crossed himself 
and called upon the Holy Mother of God, the demon went 
on : “ The middle part of your head is mine at any rate, 
because it was washed when the Vesper bell was ringing 
on Saturday.” And forthwith he hurled at him a lump of 
pitch, which was afterwards cleaned away only with great 
labour by many helpers. 

When he was on his death bed his mother said to him 
weeping: “ O deareft son you are now dying and leaving 
me in very grievous sickness.” He replied : “ St. Mary will 
deliver you, my mother.” And at the very moment of his 
death, she was healed of a very severe illness under which 
she had laboured for nine years. 

I have read in the book of the visions of the blessed 
Aczelina, that among the heavenly mansions, she saw an 
empty abode of wonderful beauty and glory, and it was 
told her that this was prepared for a certain blind man of 
Germany ; and forthwith I recognised that this brother 
Engilbert was meant. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Novice. —So far as I understand, a simple heart is very 
dear to God. 

Mon\. —Not only is it pleasing to God, but also to men ; 
it sometimes happens that it has more weight in their eyes 
than any worldly wisdom. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of Dom Peter, the abbot of Clairvaux, by whose 
simplicity his adversaries were confounded and 
renounced the property for which they had been 
contending. 

Dom Peter, abbot of Clairvaux, who had loft an eye from 
sickness, was a holy man, and an imitator of St. Peter the 
ApoStle, both in name and fad ; he was called the son of 
a dove, because he was of such great and pure simplicity. 

Now a certain knight was contending with him and his 
brethren about certain property ; and they had agreed upon 
a day on which the knight should come to terms with the 
abbot, or else a law suit should be begun before the judge. 
On the appointed day the knight came with his friends ; 
there came also the abbot, bringing with him only one 
simple monk ; and they came, not on horses, but on foot. 
And since the venerable abbot was a lover of peace and 
poverty and a despiser of all worldly property, he said to 
the knight in the presence of all: “You are a Chridian man, 
and if you will give your word that this property, about 
which we are disputing, is yours and really belongs to you, 
your word will be quite enough for me.” The other, who 
loved the good things of the world more than the simple 
truth, replied : “ In truth I assure you that this property is 
really mine,” whereupon the abbot replied: “ Then let it 
be yours, in future I will make no claim upon it,” and so 
went back to Clairvaux. The knight also returned to his 


420 



Of Singleness of Heart 


wife, delighted with his victory, and told her in every detail 
what the abbot had said to him, and his own reply ; where¬ 
upon his wife was terrified at words so honest and simple, 
and made answer: “You have atfled treacherously againSt 
the holy abbot ; and Divine vengeance will surely befal us, 
and unless you reftore their property to the monastery, I 
dare no longer live with you." Then he too was Struck 
with terror, went to Clairvaux, renounced all claim to the 
property of his own accord, and asked pardon for the unwar¬ 
rantable vexation that he had caused the holy abbot. That 
blessed man visited him in Rode in the days of some of our 
elder brethren. He was also noble according to the flesh, 
and a relation of Philip, king of France, who greatly loved 
his holy simplicity. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Of Philip, King of the French, who was edified 
by the simple silence of the holy abbot of St. Vitflor, 
and constrained his adversaries. 

Our fellow-monk Constantine told me that when he was 
Studying in Paris, John the abbot of St. ViSlor, who was a 
German by race, was pleading before King Philip against 
several nobles and great men for an important freehold. He 
had brought with him several brethren, who were skilled 
both in learning and in law, and his adversaries had advo¬ 
cates well practised in trials; now while they were bandying 
arguments on one side and the other, the abbot simply sat 
Still and did not utter a single word in reply to what was 
alleged, so that he seemed rather to be busy with praying. 
When the King had thought over this he said to the abbot: 
“ My lord abbot, why do you say nothing ? ” and when the 
abbot replied with much gentleness and great simplicity: 
“ Sire I do not know what to say,” the King was much 


421 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


edified and moved, and continued: “Go back to your 
monastery and I will speak for you.” After his departure, 
the King pretended anger and said to the knights: “ I order 
you, under penalty of my displeasure not to trouble this holy 
abbot again.” And so it came about that the property, 
which the brethren could not obtain for all their complaints, 
the unaided simplicity of the abbot obtained from the King 
(Ex. xiv. 14). I will show you further by other examples 
how dear to this same King was such virtuous simplicity. 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Also of the same King, who commended the 
Chapter of Laon for the simple way in which they 
presented to him the bishop they had defied. 

It happened once that on the death of their bishop, the 
Chapter of Laon chose to succeed him a simple canon from 
among their brethren, and presented him to the king in 
these words: “ Sire, we present to you Dom Almeric, whom 
we have elefted.” This happened to be his name. The 
King made no reply, but thought over the manner of this 
presentation and said at laft: “ Who is it that you present 
to me? ” and they answered: “ Dom Almeric.” Then the 
King: “Do you wish to say anything further?” They 
were frightened left by chance the King might be displeased 
by their choice or by the words of their presentation, and 
they answered : “ Nothing, Sire.” Then the King said : 
“ Rarely have I heard such a presentation as this. When 
anyone has been presented to me as having been ele&ed, his 
dignities have been expressed by the eleftors in some such 
words as these : “ Sire, we present to you Dom N. our arch¬ 
deacon,” or provoft or dean or scholafticus as the case might 
be. I confess to you that I am very much pleased by so simple 
a presentation, and for this reason I hope and believe that 


422 



Of Singleness of Heart 


this eledfion is in accordance with the will of God. Do 
you know how elections have formerly been celebrated for 
the dignities that have been recounted? If it has been a 
scholafticus, he has been chosen bishop because he has upheld 
the rights of his fellow-canons, or because of his learning, 
or because of the many friends he has made ; if he were a 
dean, by hypocritically hiding the excesses of his brethren, 
and the friends and relations, by whom he has been promoted, 
have been introduced ; if an archdeacon or provoft, he has 
been thruft in rather than eledled, as a man of noble birth 
and by the influence of his relations. Behold, this is the 
reason why the heads of the church are so weak.” Then 
turning to the bishop-eleft, he said : “ Dom Almeric, because 
your election seems to have been simple, reasonable and 
canonical, I will never fail you whenever you have need of 
me.” Our fellow monk Lambert, who told me this, said 
that he was in Paris at the time. But what and how great 
was the aflcdion of this King for the simple-hearted will be 
shown effectively by the following act of his. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Also of the same King, who promoted a simple 
mon\ to be abbot of S. Denys. 

Three years before this, on the death of the abbot of S. 
Denys, the Apoftle of the Franks, when that very rich abbacy 
was vacant, and there were many aspirants to it, there came 
to King Philip the provoSt who seemed to be the moft power¬ 
ful man in the community, and asked to be made abbot, 
saying: “ Sire, here are five hundred pounds that I offer to 
you in order that you may be favourable to me in the matter 
of this abbacy.” The King made no promises to him, but 
raising him to the height of his hopes by the acceptance of 
the simoniacal gift replied: “ Give the money secretly to 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


my chamberlain. When the provoSt retired, feeling sure 
of the royal favour, the cellarer, who knew nothing of this, 
also went to the King and with the same objeCf as the provosl 
offered a similar quantity of money, and the King gave him 
the same reply. Laft of all came the unfaithful cuStodian 
of the treasury, offering the King five hundred pounds for 
the abbacy, and received the same reply as the others. And 
though the King, as a prudent man, had disguised his feel¬ 
ings, nevertheless he was grievously displeased by the 
ambition of those three monks and by the vice of private 
property, and especially by the execrable theft, for he knew 
well that the money offered had been taken from the monas¬ 
tery funds. 

Then he assigned a day for the convent, on which he would 
choose their abbot, because the appointment had fallen into 
his hands. When the King had taken his seat in the chapter 
house and opened the proceedings with words denouncing 
simony, he looked round eagerly and considered the behaviour 
of the monks before him, and he noticed that the three 
already mentioned, viz., the provoSl, the cellarer and the 
sacristan showed the greatest expectation, each one hoping 
from moment to moment that the abbacy was to be offered 
to him. And although they were so full of hope neverthe¬ 
less all were disappointed in their expectation. For the 
King, noticing a certain simple monk, sitting in the corner 
of the chapter-house, and altogether regardless of any pros- 
peCts of the abbacy received an inspiration from on high and 
ordered him to Stand up. When he Stood up modeStly in 
the presence of his prince, the King said to him: “ Sir, I 
now hand over to you the abbacy of S. Denys.” When he 
heard this, that simple man declined to consent to the King’s 
order, indeed he boldly refused, asserting that he was a person 
humble, incapable of public office, and looked down upon, 
and altogether unworthy of so great a dignity and quite 
unequal to it. But the more he belittled himself, the more 
he commended himself to the King, who finally compelled 
him to accept. Afterwards he added : “ Sire, this monastery 
is bound by many debts, and there is no means of paying.” 
Then the King smiled and answered: “ See, I will give at 



Of Singleness of Heart 


once fifteen hundred pounds, and when it is necessary, I will 
lend you more and also give you both help and advice.” 
Forthwith he ordered his chamberlain to hand over to him 
the money we mentioned above. I believe he is ftill alive, 
and perchance that house is better governed by him than it 
would have been by those who had aspired to its rule. A 
similar Story to this also occurs to me. 


CHAPTER XV. 

Of a simple mon\ to whom the Emperor Frederic ^ 
gave an abbacy because of a needle. 

Some time ago in the days of the Emperor Frederick, the 
grandfather of the reigning Frederick, one of the imperial 
abbeys fell vacant ; two men were elected, and when the 
monks could not agree, one of whom took a large sum of 
money, which he had collected in the monastery, and offered 
it to Frederick, that he might take his part. 

The Emperor took the money and gave his promise, and 
afterwards he learnt that the other candidate was a man of 
good life and simple and well-ordered, and he began to take 
counsel with his friends, how he might get rid of the unworthy 
candidate, and confirm the election of him who had been 
chosen for his virtues. 

And one of his counsellors said to him: “ Sire, I have 
heard that every monk is bound by his rule to carry a needle. 
When you are sitting in the chapter-house say to that candi¬ 
date of irregular life that you wish him to lend you his needle, 
in order to take a splinter out of one of your fingers, and when 
he proves to have none, you will find an occasion of disallow¬ 
ing him owing to his irregularity. 

Now when this was done and the man had no needle the 
King said to the other: “ Sir, lend me your needle ; ” and 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


when he immediately produced it, perhaps having been fore¬ 
warned, the Emperor went on : " You are a monk, upright 
in keeping the rules of your Order and so you are worthy of 
this great honour. I had intended to give the honour to 
your opponent ; but his irregularity has shown him unworthy. 
He that is careless in that which is leaft will be careless in 
important matters.” By such sophiftry did the Emperor get 
rid of the wordly-wise monk and promote his simple brother 
to be abbot. 

Novice .—I did not know till now that there was so much 
virtue in a needle. 

Mon \.—It was not in the needle that the virtue lay, it was 
only the sign of virtue, that is, of humility, in the monk. 
He carried it for the purpose of mending his garments if 
they became torn. 


CHAPTER XVI. 

0 / an abbot whom the Emperor Otto commended 
for the sa\e of a needle. 

The Emperor Otto, the predecessor of the younger 
Frederick now reigning, was one day talking with three 
abbots of our Order, and wishing to make trial of them, he 
said to one: “ Lord Abbot, will you lend me your needle? ” 
When he replied: “ I have not one. Sire,” he asked the 
second, who also had none. But when the third was asked 
and produced his needle, the Emperor replied: “ You are a 
true monk.” You see here an example of what I juft said 
that a needle may be a sign of virtue in a monk. 


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Of Singleness of Heart 


chapter XVII. 

Of a mon\ at whom when dying a demon hurled 
a blazing needle, because in health he had scorned 
to carry such a thing. 

A certain Religious told me a very terrible thing of a monk 
of our Order, which seems suitable to set down in this place 
for an example. When he was in health, he refused to 
carry a needle according to the custom of monks, or rather he 
scorned to do so, but when he was lying in his laSt agony, a 
demon appeared, bearing in his hand a blazing needle of the 
length of a human body, and hurled it at him saying: 
“ Because you refused in health to carry a needle, take this one 
now that you are about to die ; ” and he, relating this vision 
to the bystanders, terrified them all. 

Novice. —If this be so I shall be careful for the future not 
to go without my needle. 

Uon\. —-A monk ought not to negledt any Rule of his 
Order, unless compelled by necessity. 

Novice. —I remember the monks you spoke of above, who 
offered money to abtain abbacies. Can the monks of our 
Order ever take part in such simony, since they possess no 
money ? 

Mon\. —Yes, because simony is not only material but also 
mental. This makes a monk aspire to any dignity and 
diligently plan how he may gain it, or, what is more perilous 
Still, succeed in obtaining it by cleverness. I will give you 
an example which was told me by Dom Charles the abbot 
of Villers, as having happened recently. 


4*7 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter XVIII. 

Of an abbot whom a recluse accused of simony 
because he had obtained his eleftion by cunning . 

A certain abbot came to a recluse, whom he knew to be 
a saintly woman, and accustomed to receive Divine revela¬ 
tions, and said to her: “ I beg of you, sifter, to pray to God 
for me that He will deign to make plain to you, if it is pleas¬ 
ing to Him and expedient for me, that I should remain in 
my office as abbot.” Immediately she got up, went away 
and prayed, and quickly returning told the abbot what had 
been revealed to her : “ It is not,” she said, “ the will of God 
nor expedient for you that you should remain in this office, 
nor can you save your soul in it. Do you ask why? because 
you entered upon it by simony.” When the abbot, 
bewildered at this word, said to her: “ What is that you say 
my siSter? Indeed I am not guilty of any simony in my 
election ” ; she replied : “ I will prove to you that you gained 
your position by simony. When your predecessor died, you, 
in your anxiety to become abbot, did not walk before God 
with a simple heart, but very cleverly got round your simple 
brethren in the following way. ‘ It is not necessary,’ you 
said, ‘ that we should choose anyone outside our house, 
which is a very honourable one, for if we did that, we should 
plainly accuse ourselves of incompetency.’ Now you knew 
quite well that if the eleftion were made from your own 
community, the brethren would certainly eleft no one but 
yourself; and that was the way you became abbot.” Now 
when he heard this, he admitted the truth of it and denied 
nothing ; and forthwith he went to the abbot of Clairvaux 
and besought him to absolve him. 

Novice. —If that abbot sinned so grievously by aspiring to 
the abbacy, why does the Apoftle say: " If a man desires the 
office of a bishop, he desires a good wor\ (i Tim. iii. i). 

Mon\. —The Apoftle does not blame the office of a bishop, 
but the desire for it, because in the firft he looks for toil, and 
in the second for ambition ; and that is why he immediately 

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Of Singleness of Heart 


adds: " A bishop then mu ft be blameless, vigilant, sober, of 
good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach etc. (i Tim. 
iii. 2). Also S. Benedict lays it down concerning an abbot in 
his Rule. “ Although no one ought to take the honour on 
himself, as alas ! many do to-day, but only he who is elected 
by God as Aaron was ; nevertheless it seems to me that a 
man may desire dignities of this kind without danger, if 
there be in his mind this purpose only, that he may be of use, 
not that he may rule.” The Saviour bears witness: If thine 
eye be single thy whole body shall be full of light (Matt, 
vi. 22). 

Novice .—I would gladly hear an example of this. 


CHAPTER XIX. 

Of Maurice, the bishop of Paris, who with a simple 
heart defied himself. 

Mon \.—When in our own times the bishopric of Paris fell 
vacant, the eledlors could not agree together, and so they 
handed over their votes to three arbitrators. Now when these 
three were unable to agree upon one man, the other two trans¬ 
ferred their authority to Mailer Maurice, who was the third, 
so that whosoever he should nominate would become bishop. 
And because this Maurice, as the event showed, desired rather 
to be of use than to gain power, he nominated himself, saying : 
“ I do not know either the consciences, or the proposals of 
others, and therefore I propose, God being my helper, to govern 
this bishopric blamelessly.” And he did this, for he was a 
man of holy life, and was of great help to a vail number of 
souls, both by word and example, and ended his life in that 
bishopric. And know this, that often the ambitious have 
their desire taken away by the will of God, and if by His per¬ 
mission they are promoted, they can scarcely escape from suffer¬ 
ing dangerous tribulations in those dignities, or else being 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


deposed to their utter confusion. Liden to examples of these, 
which perhaps may be necessary to some. 


CHAPTER XX. 

Of an aflute prior who nominated a man who had 
been ejefted for his infamy that his own chance 
might not be weakened. 

A certain prior of our Order, on the death of his abbot, 
aspired to the abbacy himself, and when, at the time of 
eledion, he, like the other seniors, was asked by the visitor to 
name a suitable person, with no dove-like heart he nominated 
a certain monk who had been ejected from that monastery for 
his infamy. For he knew that as a prior his nomination 
would have no small weight, and if he nominated anyone 
from the convent, such adion might weaken his own eledion, 
and so hinder the fulfilment of his desire. 

It happened by the Divine will, as is believed, that the rest 
followed his example and nominated the same person, saying 
to each other : “ Our prior is our eye and he would not have 
nominated such a person unless he had been convinced of his 
innocence.” Probably if this prior had aded with a single 
mind, he would have been chosen abbot, and I am pretty 
sure, so far as I can gather from the words of the abbot who 
told me the dory, that he was as much tortured by the pro¬ 
motion of this monk as he could have been troubled by his 
own rejedion. 

Behold how God, even in this present time, punishes those 
who are so clever and deceitful. There are plenty of examples 
of the tribulation, confusion and downfall of prelates of the 
church in these days, even more than in the old times. And 
this, perchance, is so because they were not promoted by the 
will of God (Hosea viii. 4). 


43 ° 



Of Singleness of Heart 


Novice. —Since God has so great delight in the virtue of 
simplicity as your examples have shown, I think he muff be 
full of wrath againft that cunning which is the vice opposed 
to it. 

Mon\. —The vice opposed to simplicity is duplicity, and 
cunning is its companion. 

Novice. —Why is it called duplicity ? 

Mon\. —From a double fold ; juit as simplicity is, as it 
were, without any fold. For what the simple man says, that 
he intends and does. But the double-minded man has one 
thing in his heart, and another on his lips, he intends one 
thing and does another (James i. 8 ; Eccles. ii. 12 ; Matt, 
vii. 15). Such are many of those lay-brothers who compass 
sea and land in the dress and tonsure of religion and deceive 
many. Many of these even in our day have been put to death 
because of their wickedness ; and although some of these 
travellers are saintly men without guile, yet even these are 
despised, owing to their wicked brethren. And this is why 
Dom Engilbert, the archbishop of Cologne, gave orders in his 
synod of la£t year, that none of them should receive any 
hospitality in his diocese. 


CHAPTER XXI. 

Of a man who deceived many at Bonn under the 
pretence of simplicity. 

A few years ago a certain man came to Bonn with a great 
show of piety and pretended simplicity ; and by his prayers, 
vigils and failings deceived very many. Since the canons of 
that diftridt thought that he was really as unworldly as he 
pretended to be, they entrusted to his care a hoftel for the poor, 
and many laymen put money into his hands. After a short 
time that deceiver began to depart from his pretended asceti¬ 
cism, to drink wine, to eat flesh, to pray less and to sleep 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


longer. When this was pointed out to him, he replied: “ I 
undertook these observances for a time by the advice of a 
prieSt” Why should I say more? He finally disappeared 
secretly, carrying off the money entrusted to him and showed 
by his acfts how ruinous is the vice of duplicity. When he 
heard this, Dean Christian said as follows: “ Truly my 
brethren, I will never give my soul for the soul of anyone.” 
There are many kinds of deception by this sort of rascal which 
I might tell you as having taken place in our own day, but 
they are not edifying. Would you like now to hear the sort 
of punishment that God often inflidts in this present life upon 
the vice of duplicity and cunning? 

Novice .—Indeed I very much desire it. 

Mon \.—Listen then. 


CHAPTER XXII. 

Of a man who dealt treacherously with his mother 
and was punished in the nec\ by a serpent. 

There was a young man, a layman, born on the banks of 
the Moselle, named Henry, if I remember rightly, who deceived 
his simple mother in the following way, with words which 
were indeed honeyed, but with an intention which was 
poisonous. “ Mother,” he said, “ I beg that you will solemnly 
renounce all your property, to wit, all your fiefs and freeholds 
and allow me to take them over, so that by the aid of these 
riches 1 may be able to marry a more honourable wife. Every¬ 
thing I possess is yours, and I will provide for you moil 
honourably.” 

His mother, who did not perceive the guile of the serpent 
in her son, consented to his request and resigned all the income 
of her possessions (Ecclus. xxxiii. 21). To make a long Story 
short, the wife was brought home and the mother was driven 
out. And when she fell into want and daily complained to 

432 



Of Singleness of Heart 

him, he shut his ears that he might not hear his mother’s 
laments. 

One day when sitting at table with his wife, he heard the 
voice of his mother as she knocked at the door, and said: 
“ Listen, the devil is once more making a disturbance here,” 
and he said to the servant: “ Go and put this chicken in the 
sideboard until she goes away and when this was done 
and she was admitted, after begging her son to have pity on 
her, she was driven out with a great Storm of words. Then 
he said to the servant: “ Now you can bring back our 
chicken.” But the servant, when he opened the cheSt, saw 
not a chicken but a coiled up serpent on the dish ; so he came 
back terrified and told his maSter what he had seen. Where¬ 
upon he sent a maid-servant and she said that she had seen 
exa&ly the same thing. He, thinking that they were mock¬ 
ing him, said angrily: “ Even if it be the devil himself I’ll 
fetch him out ”; and getting up from the table he bent over 
the sideboard to take up the dish, and immediately the serpent 
leapt upon his neck, and that he might properly punish the 
vice of duplicity made a double coil of himself round the 
man’s throat. And so when he sat down to eat, the serpent 
shared his food, and as often as food was taken away from him, 
or any instrument brought by which he might be detached, he 
so tightened his hold on his vi< 5 tim’s neck, that his face swelled 
and his eyes Started out of his head. 

Novice .—Rightly does he seem to me to have been punished 
by means of a serpent, because as the devil deceived Eve by 
a serpent, so by the same means did he deceive his simple 
mother. 

Mon —You judge rightly. It is now thirteen years, more 
or less, since these things happened. For this same Henry 
was carried in a carriage through our province to various 
shrines of saints, and many people saw him. And his mother, 
having compassion on his pains, followed him with maternal 
affection. About the same time the vice of duplicity and 
cunning, being duly found out, was terribly punished by 
Philip, king of France, of whom we spoke above. 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXIII. 

Of a provoft of Paris whom King Philip ordered to 
be buried alive because he had guilefully Rolen a 
vineyard from a dead man. 

This same king had a provolt in the city of Paris who 
coveted a vineyard belonging to a fellow citizen, and very 
importunately insilted that he should sell it to him. When 
the citizen replied in the words which Naboth is said to have 
used to Ahab, King of Israel (i Kings xxi. 3), thereupon the 
provolt turned to threats, but to no purpose. 

It happened that meanwhile the man died. When the 
provolt learnt this, he was delighted, and like a man who is 
overcunning, he planned a device as follows to his own deltruc- 
tion. He bribed two of the sheriff’s officers to bear false 
witness for him ; and went with them, according to agreement, 
one rough night to the grave of the dead man, and after throw¬ 
ing out the earth, he went down into the grave, and placing in 
the hand of the dead man the sum which he had offered him 
for the vine during his life, said : “ You, gentlemen, are wit¬ 
nesses that I have paid this man so much money for his vine¬ 
yard, which he himself has taken into his hand as you see, 
and has made no objection.” When they said that they were 
witnesses, he immediately took back the money and replaced 
the earth. In the morning, bringing up these men as wit¬ 
nesses, he claimed the vineyard. 

Now when the widow of the dead man heard this, she came 
to the court in ItupefaCtion and contradicted the provoll, say¬ 
ing that neither her husband nor herself had ever sold him 
that vineyard, nor had they ever received any money for it. 
To which he replied : “ I bought the vineyard for so much 
and I placed the money in the hands of your husband, as these 
men will testify, nor did he make any objection.” When she 
found that she could profit nothing she ran off to the king 
and complained to him of the violence of that provoll. When 
he contradicted her, supported by the teltimony of the afore¬ 
said men, the king, because he had no time to hear the case 
himself, entrulted it to certain others. 


434 



Of Singleness of Heart 


Now, they, deceived by the witness of the sheriff’s officers, 
favoured the side of the provoSt, and passed sentence for him 
againSt the widow. Then she being at her wit’s end, came 
to the king again with great importunity and clamorous 
weeping, whereupon the king ordered the witnesses to be 
called, and as a prudent man, he examined them prudently, 
sending for one of them by himself, and speaking with him 
privately, said : “ Do you know the Lord’s Prayer?” When 
the other replied : “ Yes, I know it, sire the king went on : 
“ Say it to me then.” And when the man had done this, 
he said nothing further to him but ordered him to wait in a 
neighbouring room ; then calling the other, he spoke to him 
very severely, saying: “ Your companion has told me the 
simple truth about the vineyard ; he has spoken as truly as 
the PaternoSter, than which nothing is more true. Moreover, 
if you disagree in any way with him, you will be punished.” 
He, thinking that his fellow had told everything to the king, 
caft himself at his feet in fear and trembling, saying : “ Have 
pity on us, sire, because we have done thus and thus, being 
persuaded by your provoSt.” The king was greatly angered, 
restored the vineyard to the widow and ordered the provoSt 
to be buried alive. 

Novice. —It was juStly done that he should be pitilessly 
buried alive, who had inhumanly dug up the dead man. 

Mon\. —The punishment of sin comes from God, and it 
very often happens that the method of the punishment is 
shaped in accordance with the crime. I will give you another 
instance of this. 


CHAPTER XXIV. 

Of a thief who was delivered from the gallows and 
was flraightway hanged again because he unjuHly 
attached his deliverer. 

A certain canon of S. Andrew in Cologne, as was told me 
by MaSter Rener his fellow canon, was accustomed to send 


435 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


his servant each year to colled the tithes of his church. Now 
as this servant passed a certain gallows and saw a man who 
had been recently hanged thereon dill quivering with life, 
he was moved with pity, cut the noose with a sword and 
brought water and restored him to life. 

As soon as the man recovered his drength he returned 
evil for good, followed his deliverer to the neared town, put 
his hand on his horse’s bridle and cried out that this man had 
robbed him by violence. Immediately a number of men 
ran up from all sides full of anger for the robbery, and with¬ 
out listening to the youth, carried him off to the same gallows 
from which the thief had been taken down. 

The men of the other town who had colleded together for 
the hanging of the original thief, had not yet all gone back, 
but when they saw a gathering at the gallows, which was 
shared between the two villages, they came back by the will 
of God to enquire the cause ; and God opened the mouth of 
the condemned man : “ I,” said he, “ delivered this man 
from this gallows, and see the sort of wicked reward he gives 
to me.” And when they had considered and discovered the 
whole case, they hanged the man the second time and 
delivered the innocent blood. 


CHAPTER XXV. 

Of a false pilgrim who was hanged by the jufl 
judgment of God, after trying to palm off his crime 
of theft upon a true pilgrim. 

Not long ago when certain pilgrims from Germany were 
on their way to the Church of S. James of Compoftella, one 
night a false brother joined them. In the morning when 
they went out of the inn, he followed them as far as the gate 
of the city and there laid hands on one of them, crying out 

436 



Of Singleness of Heart 


that he had Stolen his horse. The judge ordered them all to 
return to the inn ; and when they all bore witness that he 
whom this rascal accused was a simple and upright man, the 
judge in his wisdom ordered the saddles and bridles to be 
taken from all the horses in the absence of the accuser and 
that all of them should be put in the stable. 

When this was done he sent for the accuser and said : 
“ Go in and bring out your horse.” The man went in and 
brought out a horse which was not, however, the same which, 
at the gate of the city, he had claimed as having been Stolen 
from him ; for not even then had he taken sufficient notice of 
him. Then amid the laughter of all and of him whose horse 
had been brought out, they made their explanations to the 
judge, and that wicked man was hanged upon the gallows. 
You see now how God protect s those who walk in simplicity 
and how He punishes the cunning of the wicked. 

Novice. —I remember that you said above that punishment 
for the sin comes from God. 

Mon\. —That all punishment comes from God, the prophet 
Amos is witness (Amos iii. 6 ; also Isaiah xlv. 7). By evil he 
means punishment and tribulation, things which seem evil 
to those who suffer them, though in themselves they are good 
because they are the creation of God. Moreover I will give 
you an illustration to show you how the punishment of sin 
comes from God. 


CHAPTER XXVI. 

Of Bertolph, Palatine of Wittillinbach, who received 
a command from on high to hang the ftrli man he 
should meet. 

Bertolph, the palatine of Wittillinbach was a very severe 
judge and used to hang a thief even for the loss of a single 


437 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

penny. And as I heard from a certain abbot, whenever he 
rode out, he hung a noose to his saddle bow that there might 
be no delay in the punishment of the guilty. 

One day when he got up early and was fastening the noose 
to the saddle in his usual way, he heard a voice in the sky like 
this: “ Bertolph, whosoever shall firft meet you when you 
go out of the caftle, hang that man with your noose.” Now 
he accepted this voice as a prophecy, and as soon as he came 
out the firft man who met him was his own bailiff. When he 
saw him, he was greatly grieved, because he loved the man, 
and said to him: ‘‘I am very sorry to have met you.” 
“ Why?” “ Because you will hang ”; and the other : “ Why 
shall I hang?” And when the palatine replied: “ I do not 
know, but prepare yourself by confession and set your affairs 
in order, because I cannot oppose the Divine voice ”; the other 
seeing that it could not be otherwise, said: “ The Lord is 
juft. I have pursued and killed many who went into my 
house ; I have plundered many of many things ; I have not 
been faithful to you my mafter, nor have I spared the poor.” 
And all who heard his confession, wondered, and by his death 
they underftood that the punishment of sin comes from God. 

And because this same palatine passed judgment without 
pity, when he himself was slain by Henry the marshall to 
avenge King Philip whom he had killed, he neither asked nor 
received any pity. It is not juft judgment nor is it ordained 
by God that small and great faults should receive the same 
penalty. 

Novice .—I am now quite clear from what you have told 
me, that God punishes sin in accordance with the method and 
degree of the guilt. 

Mon \.—I will make this more clear to you in the following 
chapters which will show how in our own times it has been 
moft clearly His will to punish the vice of duplicity. 


438 



Of Singleness of Heart 


CHAPTER XXVII. 

Of Theodoric of Erinportze, who was carried dead 
through the same flreet on the anniversary of the 
day on which King Philip had been introduced into 
Cologne by his means. 

At the time of the Struggle between Philip and Otto, kings 
of the Romans, the people of Cologne clung faithfully to the 
side of Otto, partly in obedience to the Apostolic see, and 
partly because of the oath they had given to Otto, and though 
they submitted to many expenses, losses and dangers, yet some 
of them, as it was said, had been secretly bribed by the parti¬ 
sans of Philip ; and the moft powerful among these seemed to 
be Theodoric of Erinportze. By his craft it was brought 
about that Otto was forsaken, and Philip received into the 
city. Indeed, while he gave the former lip-service, his heart 
was with the latter. 

One day, when Philip was courting the great men of the 
city, who were gathered round him, this same Theodoric led 
him to where the ladies were, and looking round, said : 
“ Look, ladies, here is my king whom I have always desired.” 
Wonderful dispensation! On the very day when the year 
was completed he was carried on his bier through the same 
Street. And when he was about to be buried in the convent 
of nuns called Piscina, the interment was forbidden by letters 
of the priors, whom he had often greatly troubled. 


CHAPTER XXVIII. 

Of Henry Ratio, whose prebend was taken and held 
by one who was thruil in his place by Cardinal 
Peter according to Henry's own advice. 

A few years before this, when Peter, cardinal of Saxony was 
at Cologne, Henry surnamed Ratio, a canon of the church of 


439 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


S. Mary ad Gradus, and an advocate very skilled in all trials, 
had induced the same cardinal to inftrudt the canons of his 
church that they should choose as brother and fellow-canon 
the son of a certain citizen, although there was no canonry 
vacant. Now this had seemed to them too absurd, and they 
refused and were consequently suspended from all services. 
Judging that suspension to be merely frivolous, they unani¬ 
mously elefted a provoft. But Henry, that he might throw 
them into the greater confusion, was the only one to choose 
a different provoft, by whose help and on whose behalf he 
greatly troubled the peace of his brethren by law suits and 
losses. By the juft judgment of God he was the firft to die 
in that same year, and was buried with his mouth wide open. 
The young man, who had been thruft in by his advice, 
received and held Henry’s prebend. I have been credibly 
informed that the mouth of the dead man could not be closed 
by any means, so that it might be plain to all how great was 
his sin of selling his tongue in the law courts. 

Novice. —I beg that for the present you will lay aside 
ftories of the vice of duplicity and will return to your dis¬ 
course on simplicity, which can prevail even againft learned 
tongues before the tribunal as you said before. 

Mon\. —The ftory in the following chapter will illuftrate 
this more fully. 


CHAPTER XXIX. 

Of a half-witted priefl, who by the simplicity of 
his words before Pope Innocent obtained his 
church. 

The lord pope Innocent, who was a moft learned man and 
a very skilful speaker, according to the account given me by 
our fellow monk, Cassarius, who was at one time abbot of 
Priim, and who was present at the time of this ftory, was so 


440 



Of Singleness of Heart 


touched by the simple discourse of a certain prieft that the 
preferment, which he deserved to have loft for his illiteracy, 
he actually obtained by means of it. 

It appears that a certain clerk had taken away his church 
by some means or other, and being summoned by him, 
appeared before the said Innocent and pleaded his cause in 
elaborate language, and with weighty sentiments ; but that 
simple prieft interrupted his discourse and said: “ Holy 
father, the man is not speaking the truth, he had done me 
great wrong.” The lord pope, looking earneftly upon that 
moft simple man, replied: “ Tell me your own case in your 
own words,” and he: “ I do not know how to speak Latin.” 
“ Speak,” said the Pope, “ as beft you can, I shall under- 
ftand you well enough.” Then he very timidly and very 
clumsily used words something like these: “ Holy father, 
that clerk has a number of churches and I had only one, and 
he has taken this one from me, and now has one more with 
all the reft. This is why I complain to you.” The Pope 
had compassion on him and said to his adversary: “ What 
reply do you make to this my brother? Your avarice did not 
allow you to be content wth several churches, but you muft 
also take away his only one from this poor prieft. He is of 
so simple a nature, that if his cause had been unjuft, he would 
never have come to the Roman Curia. It is the juftice of 
his cause which has given him confidence; I order you never 
again to difturb him in his church, and further, I will relieve 
you of your other churches.” When he heard this he was 
silent in terror, because he saw that simplicity was fighting 
for his adversary. 

Novice .—Seeing that the words and works of the simple 
find so much favour with princes in the world, I think that 
God muft greatly delight in their speech. 

Mon \.—You see this from Paul the simple, but I will also 
show it you by more recent examples. 


441 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER XXX. 

Of the simple prayer of a lay-brother who threatened 
Chrifl that he would complain of Him to His 
mother if He did not deliver him from temptation. 

A certain simple lay-brother in Hemmenrode was very 
grievously tempted ; and once, as he Stood in prayer, he used 
the following words: “ Indeed, Lord, if Thou doSt not deliver 
me from this temptation, I will complain of Thee to Thy 
mother.” The merciful Lord who is the maSter of humility, 
and the lover of simplicity, forestalled the complaint of the 
lay-brother, as if He feared to be accused to His mother, and 
immediately made his temptation easier. There was another 
lay-brother Standing behind him at the time, and when he 
heard this prayer, he smiled and told it to others to edify them. 

Novice. —Who would not be edified by such marvellous 
humility of the Saviour. 

Mon\. —I will tell you others prayers of the simple-hearted, 
at which you will rejoice Still more. 


CHAPTER XXXI. 

Of a recluse who sought for Chrifl in a hole and 
found Him. 

MaSter John, who is now abbot of S. Trudon, when he was 
once visiting in Saxony a recluse who was well known to him 
and found her weeping, said to her: “ What is the matter, 
siSter? Why are you weeping? ” And when she replied: 
“ Because I have loSt my Lord,” remarking the fervour of her 
devotion, the abbot, knowing her to be a holy woman, went 
on playfully : “ Search round the corners of your cell and say : 

‘ Lord, where art Thou, answer me and perhaps you will 
find Him in some hole in the wall.” She, understanding 

442 



Of Singleness of Heart 


these simple words quite literally, after his departure, went 
round the walls of her cell, calling upon the Beloved as she 
had been told, and found at laft Him whom she sought, and 
rejoiced in the recovered possession of what she had loft. 
Often does God withdraw His grace that it may be sought the 
more earneftly and guarded the more diligently when found. 

A few years afterwards when this same John went again 
to visit her and asked how she fared, she replied in high 
spirits: “ I could not be better. And I give you hearty 
thanks because I found my Lord exatftly as you taught me.” 
And when he did' not underftand what she said, she smiled 
and reminded him of what we have told above, and he gave 
glory to Chrift who humours the simple-minded. 


CHAPTER XXXII. 

Of a simple siHer in Kummedc, to whom, while 
praying, Chrifl made answer that He was in the 
sac\. 

In Kummede, a convent of nuns of our Order, there was a 
certain simple maiden who possessed a wooden crucifix. This 
she used frequently to adore and kiss, and then to put it away 
in a sack and hide it under her mattress. One day she forgot 
where she had put it and she wandered sadly round every 
corner of the monastery seeking it, but could not find it. 
Later, when she was lying proftrate before a certain altar, and 
praying for the restoration of this image, and beseeching the 
Saviour with many tears, the Son of God, pleased with the 
maiden’s longing, replied: “ Do not weep my daughter, oe- 
cause I am lying in the sack beneath your mattress.” 

1 thought that it had been told me by the prior of that 
house, that she had heard the voice in a dream, as I remember 
to have set down in the moral homilies of the Infancy of the 
Saviour, but, later, I understood that it undoubtedly happened 


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The Dialogue on Miracles 


as I have told it. Rising Straight way from her knees, she 
rolled back her mattress, and found it exactly as she had 
heard. See how this is what I said above, that sometimes 
the Lord withdraws His Grace that it may be more eagerly 
sought, and that it may be the more deserved by such seeking. 

Novice .—Since God takes so great delight in the prayers 
of the simple-minded, surely their death muft be very precious 
in His sight. 

Mon \.—Precious indeed, because the virtue of simplicity 
outshines the palm of martyrdom and the glory of miracles. 
I will give you three examples of this. 


CHAPTER XXXIII. 

Of the death of the simple-minded Marcadellus. 

In Ferrara, a city of Lombardy, a few years ago, there 
was a man named Marcadellus of wonderful simplicity and 
of the greatest devotion towards the shrines of the saints. 
Indeed, on account of his special simplicity, he was considered 
by many to be weak-minded, though in the sight of God 
moft prudent. For whatever he could save from his toil 
beyond the a<5tual necessities of life, that he scrupulously 
expended in visiting the church of S. James or of the Blessed 
ApoStles S.S. Peter and Paul. So long as he could, he fed 
quantities of the poor and when on account of old age he was 
no longer able to do this, he provided food for them from 
the alms of the faithful by begging from door to door. He 
never left the church while any service was going on and 
thus became beloved by all. 

Now he lived a long while in a certain village of the said 
diocese and noticed in the church of that town a silver censer 
hanging rather precariously, and being frightened both on 
behalf of the church and also by his own conscience he said 
to the prieft: “ That censer is not hanging very safely.” 


444 



Of Singleness of Heart 

When the other said it had hung like that for many years 
without any danger ; Marcadellus replied: “ A thing may 
often happen in one day which has not occurred for a 
thousand years.” To make a long Story short, by the insti¬ 
gation of the devil the censer was Stolen ; but nobody imputed 
the theft to Marcadellus. But when the thief, since the 
Lord prevented him and was preparing for his servant an 
opportunity of martyrdom, could not and dared not sell the 
censer, knowing Marcadellus to be a very simple-minded 
man and a great frequenter of that church he went to him 
secretly, and after making him swear not to betray him, 
confessed that he himself had Stolen the vessel. Marcadellus 
replied: “ Give me the censer and I will easily reStore it 
without any one knowing, and if it should be necessary I 
will even give my life for yours. When he heard this the 
thief handed over to him the censer, which he had wrapped 
up in hay and put into a sack. 

Then the other frequented the aforesaid church more than 
ever that he might be able to put back the censer into its 
place cautiously and without anybody noticing ; but one 
day, when the doors of the church were closed, he was driven 
away by the extreme violence of a Storm and was compelled 
to seek the shelter of a neighbouring house, and forgot his 
sack. A certain man who was passing by, picked it up, 
and knowing whose it was, handed it over to his wife to keep, 
that she might give it back to Marcadellus when he asked for 
it. But she feeling the weight of the sack, answered her 
husband: “ Bread cannot be so heavy as this ” ; I think that 
in his great simplicity he mu Si have filled it up with Slones. 
And when she opened the sack and found the censer in it, 
and raised a great cry, showing her neighbours what she had 
found, a crowd of people collected. 

LaSt of all Marcadellus himself came up ; and when he 
was asked to whom the sack belonged he refused to lie and 
answered: “ The sack is mine, but what is in it is yours. 
I did not Steal the censer, but yet I will not betray the thief.” 
Then he told them the whole Story, how the thief had come to 
him and what promise he had made. Then they said: “ It 
is a law of Lombardy that you muSt either produce the thief 


445 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


or undergo his penalty ; ” to which he replied : “ I am in 
your hands, do with me what is juft.” They, wishing to 
consider their own interests, took this man to Ferrara, brought 
him before the judge, laid the case before him, and bore good 
testimony to his innocence and simplicity. But when the 
judge could not induce him to disclose the name of the thief, 
he passed upon him the sentence of death, and ordered him 
to be beheaded before the doors of the cathedral, as one guilty 
of sacrilege ; and certain men buried his body in that same 
place. 

Next night when some pious matrons of the city were going 
to matins at the cathedral and came to his tomb, they heard 
there angelic songs and saw wax candles burning, and per¬ 
ceived the odour of a very sweet smell on all sides of it. Now 
when they found this ftill more plainly on the second and 
third nights, they told the bishop of that city all their 
experience. And since he was a spiritually-minded man, he 
took with him others and having found on the fourth night 
that what the women had said was true, he caused a church 
to be built over the tomb of the man of God, and even to 
this day miracles Still take place there to the glory of the 
name of ChriSt. 


CHAPTER XXXIV. 

Of the death of Margaret, a virgin of Louvain. 

About the same time, a certain citizen of Louvain, with 
his wife, set their affairs in order and arranged to go to our 
monastery of Villers ; for they were both of them devoutly 
minded, and devoted supporters of the Religious life. Now 
they had with them a grown up maiden, a relation of theirs, 
who very simply and diligently served as a hand-maiden, 
both them and their gueSts, as is witnessed by our lay-brother, 
and the name of this maiden was Margaret. 

446 



Of Singleness of Heart 


Certain wicked men, had found out that they had saved 
money, and on the very night before they were to go, about 
eight of them came to their inn late at night as if wishing 
to lodge there, and sent the aforesaid maiden for wine. 
While she was gone, they killed the mafter and miflress and 
the whole household whom they found, and when they were 
all thus murdered, they took away with them the girl, who 
had now returned with the wine, and went, all of them, to 
a certain house a long way from the city. 

Now while she was sitting sadly there, and the owners of 
of the house already guessed that she had been carried off 
by force, they took her down to the river. But some of the 
robbers had compassion upon her and one of them said: 
“ Let her live and I will marry her ” ; but they refused because 
they were afraid she might betray them. Then they added 
ten marks to the share of one of them to induce him to kill 
her, and he, taking the simple lamb like a cruel butcher, 
having firft cut her throat, thruff his knife into her side, and 
so threw her ftiil alive into the river, as a sacrifice to God. 

But a woman who was a gueft in the house which they 
had entered, followed them secretly when they went out, 
and saw what was done. And in the morning when this 
horrible crime became known, the whole city was moved, 
and the wretches were hunted for, but could not be found. 
After examining the bodies of those who had been murdered 
at the inn, enquiries were made about the girl. Her body 
was found a few days later by some fishermen, who did not 
dare to give information, fearing that the crime might Ire 
laid to their charge, and so they buried her on the bank. 

Afterwards, several people saw lights around her tomb 
during the night. Wherefore they dug up the body and 
carried it thence to Louvain, where they built a chapel over 
it. And even to this day various miracles are wrought, so 
great were her merits, both in the place where she was killed, 
and also in the chapel to which her body was translated. 

Her maffer, Amandus by name, together with his wife, 
appeared after death to a certain monk of Villers, and when 
he was asked about his condition, he replied: “ We have not 
yet attained to full glory.” When finally he was asked about 


447 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


the maid, he said : “ Whatever grace is given to us, we owe 
to the merits of Margaret, nor do we dare to look forward 
to the glory which she already enjoys.” Do you see now 
how greatly simplicity and innocence of life contribute to 
the glory of martyrdom ? All indeed were slain but all were 
not distinguished by miracles. From which it is clear that 
it is not the suffering that makes the martyr but the cause. 

Novice. —What cause of martyrdom would you say, there 
was in the case of this maiden? 

Mon\.—Ks I have already said, simplicity and an innocent 
life. There are different kinds of martyrdom, to wit, inno¬ 
cence as in Abel, uprightness as in the Prophets and John 
the Baptiff: ; love of the law as in the Maccabees ; confession 
of faith as in the ApoStles. For all these different causes 
the Lamb, i.e. ChriSt, is said to have been slain from the 
foundation of the world (Apoc. xiii. 8). 

Novice. —Some have even put themselves to death from 
an excess of simplicity. 

Mon\. —Such have no share in the glory of martyrdom, 
unless they are excused by some impelling cause. Here is 
an example. 


CHAPTER XXXV. 

Of the simple-minded concubine of a prieSl who 
threw herself into a furnace. 

A certain prieSt, as was told me by a monk, was preaching 
one day before a large congregation on sin and the pains of 
hell, and a woman present being terrified and Stricken to 
the heart, interrupted him crying: “ O Sir what will become 
of the concubines of prieSts.” He, knowing the woman to 
be of a very simple nature, replied playfully: “ They can 
never be saved unless they pass through a burning furnace.” 

Now this woman was herself the concubine of a certain 



Of Singleness of Heart 


priell ; and she, taking the words of the preacher, not in 
jefl, but in all seriousness, happened one day to be in the 
house alone when the oven was heated for baking the bread. 
She closed and faftened the outer door and in the hope of 
escaping eternal fire, hurled herself into the flaming furnace 
and in the midft of the flames breathed out her soul. At 
this hour, there were some Standing near the house, who 
saw a snow-white dove come forth from the chimney of the 
furnace and pass away into the sky in a flood of light. 
Astonished by this sight, they broke open the doors, entered 
and drew out the woman, lifeless and half consumed, and at 
the bidding of the preacher, buried her in the open field as 
a suicide. But God, that He might make clear that the 
death so simply encountered was the result, not of wickedness, 
but of obedience, lit up her tomb every night by burning 
candles, as was seen by many. 

Novice .—This Story does not scandalise me, because I 
have read in V itaspatrum of a certain abbot, who ordered 
one who wished to take the vows, to enter a burning furnace ; 
and when he obeyed, it was counted to him for righteousness. 
But I should like to know what was meant by the dove that 
came out of the furnace. 

Mon \.—It was the soul of the simple-hearted woman. 
For it was under the same form that S. Benedict, as we read 
in his life, saw the soul of his siSter ScholaStica enter the 
heavens. 


CHAPTER XXXVI. 

Of the death of Ludwig, a simple monp. 

This dove calls to my mind a certain simple monk named 
Ludwig who died among us two years ago. He fell into his 
agony about noon when the whole convent was taking its 
midday sleep, but a certain monk, in his dreams, saw a white 


449 


29 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


dove sitting on the roof of the cell in which Ludwig lay dying. 
He saw also a black cat Stalking this dove ; and when this 
animal became too importunate, the dove, fearing to be 
caught by it, flew away to the church and settled upon the 
cross, and there reSted in safety. At the same time another 
monk had a vision that the brethren were Standing on this 
side and that in a circle and that a lion was prowling round 
and trying to break through and enter into their midSt ; but 
he was warded off by each one of them and being driven 
away by their kicks was ultimately put to flight. 

Meanwhile the gong sounded and the whole convent 
assembled and Stood round the dying man repeating the 
litany ; and soon the prieSt died and when he had been 
washed and robed, he was carried with solemn chanting to 
the church ; and I truSt that he escaped the wiles both of 
the cat and of the lion. The devil is likened, on account 
of his rapacity, both to a cat and to a lion which indeed are 
very like each other both in appearance and in nature, 
especially in the way they lie in wait for the passing souls of 
the simple. How mightily he is driven away in that terrible 
hour by the prayers of the upright, you will hear abundantly 
in the Xlth book about the dying. This same Ludwig, 
although he was simple by nature, had nevertheless lived a 
very carnal life before his conversion, even to old age. But 
how pleasing the virtue of simplicity is to God, with whom 
there is no shadow of turning, the precious death of a certain 
nun will make plain to you. 


CHAPTER XXXVII. 

Of the death of a simple nun who imagined a goat 
to be a woman of the world. 

In the diocese of Treves there is a convent of nuns called 
Ludzerath. In this convent, according to an ancient cuftom, 


450 



Of Singleness of Heart 


no girl is admitted at a higher age than seven years. This 
rule or cuftom grew up in the desire to preserve simplicity, 
which makes the whole body full of light. 

Now there was quite lately, in this convent, a certain adult 
virgin who was so child-like in all worldly affairs, that she 
was scarcely able to distinguish between lay folk and cattle, 
because before her conversion, she had no knowledge of the 
appearance of either. One day a goat climbed up on to the 
wall of the orchard and when she saw it, being altogether 
ignorant of what it was, she said to a sifter who was Standing 
beside her: “What is that? ’’ the other, knowing her sim¬ 
plicity, answered the wondering child in jeft: “ That is a 
woman of the world ; ” and added: “ When women of the 
world grow old, they develop both horns and beards.” The 
maiden, thinking that it really was so, was pleased to have 
learnt something and often by examples of such simplicity, 
she lightened the seriousness of her sifters. 

One day she fell grievously sick, and while she was lying 
ill so that she could scarcely speak, the nurse came to visit 
her, but she asked her firft by word and then by a sign to go 
away at once, but the nurse, underftanding neither word nor 
sign, and ftanding there ftolidly, the sick girl folded up the 
veil and threw it gently againft her breaft, as she ftood there 
and immediately she fell to the ground as though she had 
been ftruck by a ftone. After she had lain there for some 
time insensible, she recovered and got up and looked through 
the window next the bed of the sick nun ; and lo in the 
cemetery there were ftanding a multitude of horses with 
gilded saddles and golden bridles. At this moment, the 
aforesaid maiden fell into her agony, and when the sifters 
came to her, she began to cry with a loud voice: “ Make 
room, make room, make way for these lords to pass.” For 
she had seen her cell filled with persons of wonderful beauty 
and glory whose robes showed all of gold ; and so she fell 
asleep in the Lord. 

Novice .—I think that this muft have been the celeftial 
army who came to condud the soul of that simple woman, 
to its heavenly home. 

Mon \.—You judge rightly ; but there is one thing I 
45i 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


should like you to notice, namely that while she was sick, 
she saw the horses in the cemetery, but, at her death, she 
saw the angels come into her room. Henry the prior of 
the Preachers in Cologne is the witness of this vision, and he 
related that he had heard it from the provost of the aforesaid 
nunnery. 



BOOK VII 


PROLOGUE. 

Six divisions are now finished, namely those of Conversion, 
Contrition, Confession, Temptation, Demons and Singleness 
of heart ; and of the six that remain the firft place is taken 
by the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, because she 
is the moft worthy member of the church. And it is not 
unfitting this should fall into the seventh place, because seven 
is the number of virginity, since no number below the number 
of ten can be generated from it. The fail that a virgin gave 
birth to a son was a faft above nature. She is the rod that 
springs from the root of Jesse, who put forth for us that 
flower, on which doth reft the sevenfold Spirit of grace. 
Whose help I humbly implore that I may be able to write 
worthily and complete my task. 


CHAPTER I. 

Of the my Hie names of the B.V.M. and of the 
benefits she bellows upon the human race. 

S. John, in the Apocalypse saw a woman clothed with the 
sun, with the moon beneath her feet and a crown of twelve 
liars upon her head (Apoc. xii. i). 

This woman is the Virgin Mary, brighter than the sun 
in the splendour of charity ; the moon, that is the world, 


453 



The Dialogue on Miracles 

is beneath her feet to show her contempt for earthly glory ; 
she is crowned with all the virtues as with a diadem gemmed 
with Stars ; and, a higher dignity than all these, she is 
pregnant with the Divine offspring. Some of the names by 
which she is called are : hill, caStle, courtyard, temple, 
chamber, city, palm, cedar, vine, rose, and a great wealth of 
noble names besides. Splendid are her names of: the rod 
that budded the burning bush, the fleece of Gideon, Solomon’s 
throne of ivory and gold, the sealed fountain, the inclosed 
garden, and very many others which I muSt omit for the 
sake of brevity. 

For as in all creation there is nothing holier, nothing more 
worthy or more excellent than the Mother of the Creator, 
so there is no vision of the saints more worshipful, more 
delightful, more exalted than the vision of Her : 

“ Whose prayers,” as has been said, “ overcome vice, whose 
name dispels sadness, whose odour is more fragrant than 
lilies, and whose lips surpass the honey-comb in sweetness. 
She is more full of savour than the nut, whiter than the snow, 
more dewy than the rose, brighter than the moon, with the 
light of the true Sun.” 

Novice .—Happy in truth, and thrice happy, are they who 
have been counted worthy to rejoice in the vision of her, and 
to be delighted with the sound of her voice, to be consoled 
with her prayers and to be Strengthened with her blessing. 

Monf {.—This you shall learn more fully by examples. 
Already you have heard some of the metaphors and figures 
under which she is represented ; would you like now to 
learn of what sort and how great are the benefits that the 
world receives through her? 

Novice .—There is nothing I more thirSt for. 

Mon —She is the preserver of the round world, the con¬ 
soler of the sad, the faithful defender of her servants. By 
her sinners are enlightened, the despairing brought to con¬ 
fession, the apoftate from God miraculously reconciled, the 
righteous comforted with revelations. Her name and 
remembrance (Ps. xxvi. 8.) heal the sick, put demons to flight, 
loosen chains, drive away fear, retrain temptations, by her 
the timid are made brave, the sluggards are roused, the exiles 


454 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


mercifully recalled. She loves those who love her, nay, she 
anticipates and honours them in love ; and because she is 
juft, she punishes and brings low those who despise her. 
With her are all ftrengthening balsams, all health-bringing 
ungents. Her memorial is sweeter than honey and her 
inheritance above honey and the honey-comb (Ecdus. xxiv. 
27). She is present with the dying and she guides the souls 
of the dead to eternal life. 

Novice. —Athough I believe all this about her yet I would 
like you to make it Still clearer by examples. 

Mon\. —I will tell you what I have heard from the 
Religious, assifted, I hope, by her prayers. And firft I will 
give you two examples of how the world is preserved by her 
merits and prayers. 


CHAPTER 11 . 

Of her image which sweated for fear of the Divine 
judgment. 

It is some years since that great ftorm of which I spoke 
in the 21st chapter of the 4th book and during it, while the 
people in a certain church in this province were worshipping, 
and the prieft was celebrating the divine myfteries, the image 
of the Mother of God began to sweat so violently, that the 
byftanders wondered greatly and some matrons there wiped 
off the drops with their veils, how, by God’s good pleasure, 
there was present there at that time one possessed with the 
devil. When asked for the cause, he replied: “ Why do you 
ftand aftonished ? The Son of Mary had ftretched forth His 
hand to ftrike and if she herself had not reftrained Him, the 
world would no longer exift. This is the cause of that 
sweat.” And all were terrified who heard such fearful words. 
These things were told me by a pious abbot of our Order 
as having at that time recently happened. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


CHAPTER III. 

Of the plague of Friesland, on account of the insult 
to the Body of the Lord. 

Shortly after these events, to wit, in the year of grace 1218, 
the sea overrunning its boundaries in the country of Friesland, 
covered many provinces, destroyed towns, overthrew churches 
though built of Stone and drowned more than 100,000 people. 
So high were the waves, that they were seen to cover tne tops 
of towers, and Storm following Storm, a universal flood seemed 
to be threatened. And it was told our abbot who had gone 
that year into Friesland to make visitations, the raging waters 
would have spread even as far as Cologne, if He, who aroused 
them, had not restrained them at the prayer of His Mother, 
as will afterwards be told. 

Novice. —Do you know the cause of so great a blow? 

Mon\. —Yes. There was a certain Frisian pugilist in that 
province who often came home drunk, and as often, 
belaboured his wife with Stripes and blows. Once she pre¬ 
tended illness through fear of her husband and that the 
pretence might seem more real, she asked that the Body of 
the Lord might be given her. As the prieSt was coming, 
the pugiliSt carrying a cup of beer and in a drunken condition 
met him and urged him to drink. And when he replied : “ I 
am carrying the Body of the Lord, I will not drink now ; ” 
the Frisian in anger Struck the pyx with the cup and shook 
out of it all the sacred wafers, so that they were scattered 
over the floor. And the matrons, who had come to comfort 
the woman, saw as it were Stars shining over each particle 
of the HoSt, and the prieSt with weeping and mourning 
gathered them again into the pyx and went away. 

The Frisian indeed was summoned before the dean of the 
province and excommunicated, but little he cared. Finally 
he was compelled to this, that, branded with the cross for so 
great a sacrilege, he should go to Rome with the aforesaid 
prieSt also marked with the cross. Honorius, who was then 
the lord pope, and to whom he confessed his sin, enjoined 

456 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 

upon him as a penance, that he should cross the sea and there 
serve Christ in arms for three years. What need of more? 
Both crossed the sea and both perished before Damietta. 
After their death, the Lord in that same year smote the 
province terribly and the cause of the Stroke was hidden from 
the people. 

Now there was a certain holy matron who served the Lord 
continually with faStings, prayers, vigils and alms, and she 
was the aunt of Witbold the lord abbot of S. Bernard ; to 
her appeared the Blessed Mother of God, moved by her tears, 
and full of compassion for the people and thus spoke : “ Be¬ 
cause of the insult shown to my Son in the sacrament of His 
Body, Friesland is submerged and it will be Still further 
afflicted, if condign punishment be not meted out.” From 
these words she gathered that not only the sacrilege of the 
pugiliSl, but also the crying sins of the whole people were 
the cause of the punishment. Presently, the Mother of com¬ 
passion added: “ Lift up thine eyes towards the sea ; ” and 
when she had done this, she saw, floating upon the waves 
the pyx that had been Struck by the pugilist. And when it 
drew near enough to be seen plainly she said : “ Behold the 
Body of my Son. On the spot where it was scattered abroad, 
a church muSl be built and the same reverence muSt be shown 
to that place as is shown to the Holy Sepulchre. Know this 
also, that both prieSt and pugilist are dead ; the latter, because 
he died unrepentant, is buried in hell, but the prieSl is now 
in purgatory." Now Theodoric, the prior of Jesse, told us 
that the pugiliSf when he set out for the Holy Land had 
shown abundant signs of contrition, but we are compelled to 
believe the words of the Blessed Mother of God. 

When this vision was made known, Theodoric, the lord 
bishop of MiinSler, in whose diocese the chief part of Fries¬ 
land lies, sent letters by Ydidas, the cellarer of S. Bernard, 
who himself told me of it, and enjoined a solemn penance 
on all who dwelt in that province. That this was insufficient 
is shown by the fatfl that in the following year, Friesland 
was again punished and many thousands drowned in new 
floods. A certain rich matron belonging to the family of 
the pugiliSf built the church. From what I have said you 


457 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


can understand how solicitous is the B.V.M. for the salvation 
of men, when she shows so much anxiety for their repentance. 
How she comforts the affiidted will be made clear by the 
following Story. 


CHAPTER IV. 

Of a feeble-minded priefl, who was degraded by 
S. Thomas of Canterbury, and recovered his office 
by the intervention of the Blessed Mary. 

An abbot of our Order told me a pleasant Story of S. 
Thomas of Canterbury, martyred in our own times, which 
does not appear in his passion, nor is it found in the book 
of his miracles. There was in his diocese a certain 
half-witted prieSt, who knew no mass except that of 
Our Lady, which he said every day ; and when he was 
formally charged with this, the blessed bishop felt bound 
for the honour of the sacrament, to prohibit him from saying 
mass at all from that time forward. 

Therefore he fell into sorrow and want, and called con¬ 
tinually upon the Blessed Virgin, who appeared to him and 
said: “ Go to the bishop and tell him from me to restore you 
to your office.” The prieSt replied : “ Lady, I am poor and 
of no reputation ; he will not listen to me, indeed I shall 
never be able to come into his presence.” The Blessed Virgin 
added: “ Go, for I will prepare the way for you.” And 
he : “ But Lady, he will not believe what I say.” And she 
replied: “You will tell him for a sign that when at such 
a time and in such a place, he was repairing his hair-shirt 
which had come unsewn, I held one side of it and helped 
him and immediately he will believe you.” 

In the morning, the prieSt found audience of the bishop 
without difficulty and gave him the message of the Blessed 
Mother of God ; and when he said to him: “ How shall I 

458 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


know that she has sent you? ” he repeated to him the incident 
of the hair-shirt. And when he heard this, the blessed arch¬ 
bishop was Stricken with fear and amazement and replied: 
“ See, I reStore to you your office and I enjoin upon you to 
sing and repeat the mass of Our Lady only and to pray for 
me. 

Novice .—Wonderful indeed is the compassion of our Lady 
that she should so defend a feeble-minded prieSt who was 
worthy of deposition and should judge him worthy to remain 
in so important an office. 

Mon\. —All this arises from her ineffable pity, as you will 
see Still more astonishingly in the following chapter. 


CHAPTER V. 

Also of a prtefl in Dern, deposed because he was 
half-witted, to whom S. Mary ordered his church 
to be reftored. 

A certain canon of S. Gereon in Cologne, Hardarad by 
name, of noble birth, born in Merenberg, was redtor of a 
certain church called Dern, upon the river Lahn. Since he 
was a man of extravagant and expensive taStes and found 
his yearly income too small, understanding that the vicar of 
his church at Dern had much money, he set about planning 
how he might get some from him. And knowing him to 
be quite illiterate, he took with him the dean of Limburg 
and entered the church as if to hear mass within the ocffavc 
of the Epiphany when the office is a particularly difficult 
one, even when the prieSt has prepared himself for it. The 
prieSt was terrified when he saw such important personages 
come in ; and after the confession, as he did not know the 
office for the day, he began the introit from that of our Lady, 
which begins: " Vultum tuum deprecabuntur; ” and 

Hardarad, not unwilling to confuse him, and using his 


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authority as redtor, began the office of the day, i.c.: " In 
excelso throno.” And when the prieSt went on with what 
he had begun, the other Stopped, pretending to be thrown 
into confusion. When the mass was over, he spoke harshly 
to the prieSt and said: “ Sir, what mass was it that you said 
to day?” And the other replied: “That of our Lady; 
was there anything wrong with it?” Hardarad replied: 
“ Take care that you never say any mass again in a church 
of mine,” and so went away after putting in another prieSt. 
Now he who was thus turned out, fell into poverty and want, 
and the Mother of Pity took compassion on him ; one night, 
when Hardarad had said matins, she appeared to him when 
alone in the church at S. Gereon and spoke to him severely, 
saying: “ Why did you, driven by your avarice, send away 
my chaplain? If you do not at once reStore him, I will take 
from you the use of your tongue.” He threw himself at 
her feet, besought pardon and promised full satisfaction. 
Next morning he sent a messenger to restore the prieSt who 
had been deprived, charging him, as was said above about 
S. Thomas, to celebrate the mass of S. Mary every day and 
begging him to pray for his sins. This prieSt is Still alive 
and presides over a convent of nuns, of which he was the 
founder. 

Novice. —It is indeed good to serve such a miStress who 
thus comes to the help of her servants. 

Mon\. —Not only does she warn and reprove those who 
afflidt them, but she also mightily defends their property. 


CHAPTER VI. 

0 / the lord pope Innocent, who was reproved by 
S. Mary through Renerius when he endeavoured 
to impose exadions upon the Cidercian Order. 

At the time when Baldwin, count of Flanders, Stormed 
Constantinople with the crusaders, pope Innocent had by 

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The Blessed Virgin Mary 

letters enjoined the Order to send a fortieth part of all their 
portable property, as a grant in aid of the Holy Land. The 
Order however, relying upon the privileges granted to it by 
his predecessors, and fearing left they should change into 
slavery the freedom won by their forbears, refused to submit 
to so serious an exaction. Whereupon Innocent raged in 
such anger againft us that he proposed to permit the secular 
authorities to lay hands upon the possessions of the Order. 
But in the next general council, the abbots who attended, 
refting their hopes upon the Blessed Mother of God, the 
patroness and advocate of the Order, and feeling confident 
that this ill-conceived sentence could easily be revoked by 
her prayers, ordered special petitions to be said for this emer¬ 
gency until the next chapter, adding this also, that from the 
beginning of Lent the monks should make a procession with 
bare feet, from the chapter-house, singing the seven psalms 
and the litany. And this was done. 

Meanwhile the Blessed Mother of God appeared to a 
certain monk named Renerius who was pope Innocent’s con¬ 
fessor, and charged him in these words: “ You are trying to 
deftroy the Ciftercian Order whose advocate I am, but you 
will not succeed. And unless you quickly reconsider your 
evil intentions, I will break both you yourself and all your 
power.” 

When the lord Innocent heard this message, he was terri¬ 
fied, because he knew Renerius to be a saintly and truthful 
man, and so truly did he repent of the sin he had intended, 
that he confirmed the privileges of the Order, adding this 
also, that the business of the Order should be carried through 
the Curia before any other. This indulgence he ratified, 
both with his own bull and with the signatures of all the 
cardinals; and was so angry with the cardinal of the Order 
of black monks who was the only one to resift, that he 
threatened to degrade him. And when our fathers were 
informed of these things at the next chapter they gave thanks 
to Chrift and His Mother for a change so unexpected, and 
closed the enjoined petitions with an act of thanksgiving. 

Novice .—I do not wonder that so mighty a queen should 
defend those whose advocacy she undertakes. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon \.—You say well, for although she is the Mother o 
compassion yet she is not unmindful of the punishment - 
the unmerciful. 


CHAPTER VII. 

Of the punishment of the enemies of Marienfiatt. 

A certain noble lady, Alison de Molsberg 1 with the consent 
of her husband, the Burgrave Everard, by divine inspiration 
had handed over some of her revenues into the hands of Dom 
Henry our abbot, freely and without any one gainsaying, 
and while she was ftill alive, the house which is called 
Marienfiatt, was built. After her death certain noble 
relations of hers began to molefl this new foundation with 
complaints, threats, plunderings and many other annoyances. 
But the Virgin Mary, the Holy Mother of God, the patroness 
and guardian of this monastery, so wrought with her Son, 
as was commonly said, that Henry of Molsberg, the chief 
offender, was attacked, and being condemned as having a&ed 
arbitrarily was banished from the caflle. 

Another noble, de Ziegenberg, who had much troubled 
this same house, was miserably slain by his own servant. A 
third, while hastening to the plunder of the monaflery, burs'! 
asunder in the midfl on the way. Yet another who was one 
of the joint heirs, when he heard of these punishments, was 
overcome with fear, and coming to the place, withdrew his 
claim publicly, saying : “ O Holy Lady Mary, let this be thine 
alone, I here renounce all part or lot in it.” 

The knight William of Helpenflein, 2 urged on by his 
wife, who maintained that she was the heiress of the family 
eflates that had been assigned to the monaflery, took posses¬ 
sion of the befl farm and caused no little expense to the 
brethren. 

1 Countess of Froizberth, see Bk. V, 5. 

2 A caftle under Ehrenbreilftein, opp. Cologne. 

462 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


Meanwhile a pious prieSt who was William’s confessor, 
dreamt one night that he was transported to Marienffatt, 
where he saw the said William endeavouring to prevent a 
prieft from celebrating the mass, and as he watched, he saw 
further a coal-black figure rise up againft the intruder and 
slay him with a blow from a club. He related this vision 
to the knight, and assured him that he had not long to live, 
if he did not cease from troubling the monks, but he, protect¬ 
ing fretfully that he was daily urged on by the goadings of 
his wife, refused to liCten to his counsel. He was summoned 
by letters from the pope for being in violent possession of 
some of the property, and after the judges and advocates 
had protracted the trial for an unconscionable time, at laCt 
they appointed two days for the parties, one for making an 
amicable arrangement and the other for fighting it out in the 
Court. 

When it was found that they could come to no agreement 
and there were now three days left before the trial, John of 
Horicheim, a lay-brother in Altenberg, dreamt that night 
that he was in MarienCfatt, and heard the glorious virgin say 
in clear tones: “ I mud depart from this place.” And when 
the monk asked : “ Whither wilt thou go, Lady ?” she replied : 
“ To my Son, to complain of William of HelpenClein, who 
will not suffer me to abide here in peace.” 

In the morning he related this vision to the knight’s butler 
and added : “ Be sure of this, that death is drawing very near 
to your lord, on account of his behaviour to the convent of 
MarienClatt.” And he replied with a jeCf: “ Never mind, 
we shall be glad to get rid of him.” And a few days after, 
he loCl a foot, as his punishment for his mock. 

On that same day when William was riding through a 
wood, carrying a hawk upon his fiCt, he met two servants of 
the count of Sayn, who were leading away as a prisoner one 
of his own men. This man he endeavoured to rescue and in 
the scuffle that ensued, he was transfixed with a spear and 
forthwith breathed out his soul. At the same hour, a woman 
possessed with the devil in the village of Frisch, far diCIant 
from the caCIle of HelpenCtein, began so to leap and clap her 
hands and chuckle and grin, that twelve men were scarce able 

463 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


to hold her down. When asked what ailed her, she replieo . 
“ My mailer has juft gained three souls. Know that 
William of Helpenftein has juft been killed.” 

Novice. —What did she mean by saying three souls? 

Mon/(. —Those of the slain and of the slayers, as I think, 
because he had the soul of the dead man in fail and of the 
other two in prospect. 

Not long afterwards in Brisach, the devil was queftioned 
about the soul of this William, and replied by the mouth of 
another woman : “ My mafter has it safe, and because of the 
monks whom he despoiled, he pours into it sulphur and 
pitch, filling it up to the brim.” Moreover his wife, who had 
goaded him on to so much wickedness, was with her children 
soon after driven out of her caftle by her ftep-brother. For 
although it was considered impregnable, he entered in the 
night, by a scaling ladder, and call her out with ignominy, 
thus avenging the wrong done to the Blessed Mother of God. 
From that time forward, the monaftery has possessed this 
farm in peace until this day, by the help of the merits of the 
Glorious Virgin. 

Novice. —You have now made it quite clear that she is 
the preserver of the world, the comforter of the afflifted and 
the faithful defender of her servants. Show me now I pray 
you by some example that she also gives light and under- 
ftanding to the sinner, for I judge that to be a ftill more 
beautiful thing than all the reft. 

Mon\. —Since man can often win grace for his fellow-man, 
it is easy to believe that this can be won much more fully by 
the Mother of the Lord. 


CHAPTER VIII. 

Of Henry, canon of S. Kunibert who was converted 
by the intercession of S. Mary. 

There was a canon of S. Kunibert in Cologne, named 
Henry, who lived a very worldly life. One day when he was 

464 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


riding unattended, he noticed a small bright cloud flit across his 
path and heard a moft exceedingly clear voice speak from it: 
“ Thy Will be done in earth as it is in heaven.” This voice 
was of such exceeding sweetness that whenever afterwards he 
called it to mind, he was melted to tears. And as he paid too 
little attention to this gentle heavenly voice, or perhaps too 
little understood its meaning, he dreamt one night that he 
was Standing in his private chapel before the altar in the 
presence of the image of the Blessed Mother of God. And 
when, according to wont, he saluted her with the angelic 
greeting, she replied: “Why doft thou salute me? Thou 
art a loft soul ; unless thou amend thy life, very quickly wilt 
thou perish. Yet I and S. Benedict are interceding for thee.” 

Yet he negleftcd even this second warning, so entranced 
was he in the sweetness of the worldly life ; and about six 
weeks later he was seized with so grievous a sickness, that 
extreme unftion was given him, for there appeared now no 
hope of his life. Then at laft he came back to his senses and 
remembered what he had heard and seen, and sending for 
certain Bergensian brothers of the Ciftercian Order, he made 
his submission to them, and became a monk at the following 
Eafter, and to this day he gives thanks that he was enlightened 
by the prayers of the Blessed Virgin. 

Novice .—Whose was the voice from the cloud and what 
was its meaning? 

Mon \.—So far as can be gathered from what I have said, 
is was the voice of the Blessed Mary and of S. Benedift, for 
they prayed Chrift that as His will was done in heaven, i.e. 
in the juft man, so also it might be done on earth, i.e. in the 
youth that was then a sinner. Nor ought it to be a matter of 
wonder to you that sinners are enlightened by her, for accord¬ 
ing to His name, so is His praise unto the world’s end (Ps. 
xlviii. 9). For the name “ Mary ” is interpreted “ ftar of the 
sea,” or “ illuminator.” Of how she also brings to confession 
and pardon those who are desperate and hardened againft all 
grace, I will now give you some examples. 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


chapter IX. 

Of the mon\ who was sic\ in the Trappi/I mona- 
flery for whom S. Mary obtained the grace of 
confession. 

In the province of Perche, there is a house of the CiStercian 
Order called Trappa. Here, as was told me by Dom Henry, 
the abbot of Scimenu who said that the ftory had been related 
to him by the abbot of the aforesaid monastery, there happened 
this that I am about to tell you, which had then recently 
taken place. 

There was a monk there who was sick to death, and two 
monks were deputed to attend upon him. Once when these 
two had gone out together and the sick man was lying alone, 
there entered two evil spirits, who Stood together in a corner 
of the room, clapped their hands and chuckled, saying to each 
other : “ To-morrow at the third hour we shall have the great 
pleasure of taking this man’s soul to hell.” 

Immediately the sick man began to tremble and grow pale 
from the bitter Stings of conscience ; for before his conversion 
he had committed certain grievous sins which shame had 
prevented him from confessing either when a clerk in the 
world, or as a novice, or as a monk in the monastery. And 
now, as he looked round in terror he saw in the opposite 
corner of the room a moSt beautiful matron who thus replied 
to the grinning demons: “ Do not rejoice too much, for I shall 
advise him how he may escape your jaws.” And when she 
had said this, the attendants returned, and the whole vision 
disappeared. UuderStanding the advice to mean full confes¬ 
sion and the matron to be the Holy Mother of God, whom he 
had invoked, as I think, in that extremity of danger, he caused 
the prior to be summoned, to whom, helped by the merits of 
the Blessed Virgin, he confessed all his sins, fully and devoutly, 
and begged him to disclose them all to the abbot, who was at 
that time absent from the monastery. Then, anointed with 
the holy oil, and fortified by the sacrament of the body of 
the Lord, at the hour foretold by the demons, he breathed 
out his spirit in the humble hope of pardon. 

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The Blessed Virgin Mary 


CHAPTER X. 

Also of two beggars who lay ill in a hospital of Paris 
whom she urged to confession. 


Two paupers in Paris received a similar mercy from the 
Blessed Virgin, as was told me by our brother Lambert who 
said that he was Studying there at the time. And when they 
were brought into the hospital, which is situated juSl opposite 
her oratory in the parvis, the most Merciful Virgin herself who 
cares for all men, deigned to appear to a certain religious who 
was chaplain to this hospital and said : “ My friend, see that 
moff watchful care is bestowed on these two poor men, because 
they are in a perilous Slate and demons are hovering round 
them, seeking how they may injure them.” And when she 
had said this to the prieSl and he to clear his conscience had 
exhorted them once and again without any effect, he added at 
laSl: “ Wretched men, I know that you are in moSl grievous 
sin and at the point of death, and unless you confess, you will 
go to hell and be tortured with everlaSIing pains.” Then they, 
terrified, and, as is moSl surely to be believed, enlightened by 
the prayers of the blessed mother of God, made a good con¬ 
fession and died like good ChriSlians, giving grief to the devils, 
and joy to the holy angels in Heaven, 

Novice. —Such things are delightful to hear of. 

Mon\. —Not only sinners who have faith without works, 
are enlightened by her, as has been shown, but even apoflates 
from the faith are reconciled to Chrift through her, and this is 
a proof of Still greater compassion. Of this you have a clear 
example in the twelfth chapter of the second book, of the 
young man near Floreffe who denied ChriSt and gave him¬ 
self over to the devil and yet found pardon through her 
prayers. 

Novice. —The same Story is told of Theophilus of Alexan¬ 
dria. And now since you have told me enough of her good¬ 
ness to sinners, I pray you also to show me by illustrations, 
the kind of revelation with which she consoles the good. 

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The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon\. —How marvellously the Holy Mother of God con¬ 
soles her faithful servants, you shall underhand from the few 
examples that I will now lay before you. 


CHAPTER XI. 

Of Peter the one-eyed abbot of Clairvaux whom S. 

Mary blessed in the Church of Speyer. 

Circumstances arose in which it became necessary that some 
of the abbots of our Order should be sent on business to the 
Emperor Henry, the son of Frederic. Chief among these 
both in dignity and saintliness was Dom Peter, the one-eyed 
abbot of Clairvaux, of whom we have already spoken in the 
eleventh chapter of the sixth book. 

And because the abbot of Citeaux was unable to come him¬ 
self, he sent his prior in his place. When they had come to 
Speyer and said their prayers in the church of the blessed 
mother of God, which is a building of Stupendous size, and 
all the others had quickly risen from their knees and were 
walking round the church, admiring its architecture, Peter, 
whose thoughts and interests lay not in corruptible buildings, 
but in the architecture of the heavenly Jerusalem, continued 
in prayer. 

At length they all went out, and at the door of the church 
were greeted with much reverence by the canons, who very 
warmly invited them to dine, and one of the abbots asked 
in whose honour the church had been consecrated. When 
the clerks replied: “ In honour of our Lady,” the abbot of 
Clairvaux added without thinking : “ Yes, I felt sure of that.” 
The prior of Citeaux noticed these words, but said nothing 
at the time ; later when they had all left the city, he remem¬ 
bered them and said to the abbot: “ Tell me, how did you 
know that the monastery of Speyer had been consecrated in 
honour of our Lady?” And he, grieved for the words he had 

468 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


let fall, replied : “ It seemed to me altogether fitting that the 
patroness of so wonderful a building should be no other than 
the Mother of God and Queen of Heaven.” The prior, know¬ 
ing well the man’s saintliness, and feeling sure from his reply 
that some revelation had been vouchsafed him in the church 
went on : “lam taking the place of the lord abbot of Citeaux 
on this journey, and on his authority I enjoin upon you to tell 
me the simple truth. Then Peter, constrained by obedience, 
replied submissively : “ While I was lying prostrate before the 
altar, earnestly beseeching mercy for my sins and for the 
negligences of the journey, the blessed Virgin Mary herself 
appeared to me, and in these words said over me the blessing 
which our Order is wont to say over those who have come back 
from a journey : ‘ Almighty and Everlasting God, have mercy 
upon this Thy servant, and whatever harm has come to him 
on his journey from sight of evil or from hearing of idle talk, 
do Thou in Thine unspeakable mercy abundantly pardon, 
through Jesus ChriSt our Lord.’ ” All this was told me by 
an abbot of our Order, whose house this same Peter frequently 
visited, for he understood from this blessing that she was 
indeed the patroness of the place. 

Novice. —How happy a prayer was his, to merit the blessing 
of the glorious Virgin. 

Mon{. —And she is wont to comfort with her blessing, 
not only those who pray, but those also who sing God’s 
praises. 


CHAPTER XII. 

Also of motifs and lay-brothers in Hemmenrode, 
whom she blessed when at vigils in the sight of 
Henry the lay-brother. 

Henry the lay-brother in Hemmenrode, whom I spoke of 
in the 5th chapter of the 5th book when I was discoursing 

469 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


of demons, often, especially on the church’s festivals, saw the 
Glorious Virgin among the monks when they were occupied 
in praising God with singing. One night he saw her come 
from the choir of the monks, and enter the choir of the lay- 
brothers, holding in her arms the Son of God who was born 
of her. As she went round, Stirring the brethren to further 
devotion, as the abbot does, she halted before some who 
were watchful and earnest in prayer, showing them her Son 
and blessing them, congratulating them on their devotion. 
But quickly she passed by any who were lukewarm, or who 
were allowing themselves to be overcome with sleep, nor 
offered any comfort to them. And this same lay-brother 
took diligent note of each of his brethren thus singled out 
in this celeSlial visitation and told their names to the lord 
Herman, then prior, and now abbot of MarienSlatt ; and it 
was from his lips that I heard this. 

Novice. —I remember that you told me a similar Story in 
the 35th chapter of the 1st book about Godfrey the monk of 
Villers. 

Mon\. —With so great love does the Blessed Virgin enfold 
those who are her devoted servants, that not only when they 
pray, not only when they praise, but even when they sleep, 
she blesses them. 


CHAPTER XIII. 

Also of the same lay-brother, and of other sicl^ 
lay-brothers, whom she visited in the night and 
blessed them. 

One night when this same lay-brother was sitting on his 
bed in the infirmary and was saying his prayers while the 
others were sleeping, he saw Our Lady in great glory enter 
the cell, with a certain monk whose name I will not mention 
going in front of her, and two matrons following. And 


470 



The Blessed Virgin Mary 


first she lifted up her hand over his head, and then she went 
in and out among the beds of the sick and blessed them as 
they slept, and finally she returned to him, and again raising 
her hand above his head, she said: “ May the blessing of 
the Lord abide upon all in this place ” and so went out. 

Novice. —If sleepers are thus visited at night by the mirror 
of all purity, it is moft necessary that the Religious should 
Study to lie so orderly and composedly in their beds, that 
the maiden eyes should find no offence in them. 

Uon\. —MoSt rightly have you judged. I will give you 
an illustration which I remember to have heard from my 
maSter when I was a novice on probation. 


CHAPTER XIV. 

Also of monies whom she blessed in their sleep, 
one only being left out because he was lying in 
unseemly guise. 

A certain monk who, as often happens, was saying his 
prayers one night when unable to sleep, saw in the dormitory 
a woman of wonderful beauty. She went round the beds 
of the sleepers and gave a blessing to each one, leaving out 
only one monk from whom she turned away her eyes. The 
watcher carefully noted this man, and told him in the morn¬ 
ing the vision he had seen, whereupon he confessed that he 
had lain that night somewhat carelessly, relaxing a little 
from the Slridl rule of the Order. My maSter could not tell 
me whether he had laid aside his girdle or taken off his 
sandals or unfastened his tunic. 

Novice.— If this monk loft his blessing for so small a 
fault, I think that he muft be worthy of punishment who 
goes to sleep habitually lying in a disordered and immodest 
fashion. 


471 



The Dialogue on Miracles 


Mon \.—Of this you have a terrible example in the 33rd 
chapter of the 5th book, where a lay-brother, lying asleep 
in an immodeft attitude was kissed by the devil in the form 
of a nun and Straightway fell sick and died in a few days. 
For we can both sin and deserve well in our sleep. For 
what we think of during our waking hours, or to what we 
are impelled whether good or ill, these things often come 
back to us in dreams. As in a chain when it is pulled or 
jerked, motion generates motion, so in the sleeper what has 
gone before, whether thought, adtion or consent, induces good 
or evil results. 

Novice. —I like what you say. Will you go on now 
about the consolations of the righteous? 


CHAPTER XV. 

Of the appearance of the B.V.M. with S. Elizabeth 
and S. Mary Magdalene to the aforesaid brother. 

Mon\. —A certain monk of blameless life, whose name 
I muft not give, repeatedly asked this lay-brother Henry that 
he would intercede for him when next he should be visited 
by the Blessed Mother of God. He gave this promise and 
one day after saying compline in the chapel of the grange 
of which he was head, he was praying for him, when as he 
prayed, there appeared to him three matrons of wonderful 
beauty. And while he remained bewildered by their beauty 
and wondered within himself who they were and whence 
they came, one of them made answer to his thoughts in these 
words: “ I am Mary Magdalene, this,” pointing with her 
fing